Moffat County soccer brings heart to Senior Night game

Moffat County's Jessica Palacios and Stephanie Esquivel are honored as part of Senior Night against Vail Christian Monday, May 1.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

It may not have been the win they’ve been seeking for the last few years, but the outgoing members of the Moffat County girls soccer program can rest easy knowing they held nothing back in their final home game.

MCHS hosted senior night on Monday, sending off their two oldest members at halftime of their game against Vail Christian.

Seniors Jessica Palacios and Stephanie Esquivel were joined by family and friends for the occasion, with bouquets for the pair of team captains.

The last match at home was also arguably the best performance the Bulldogs have had this spring, holding the Saints scoreless for the first half.

After being utilized defensively for most of her playing career, Palacios was up front with the strikers.

“I was forward a lot more these last couple games,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed that honestly. I love it.”

Palacios showed her aggressive style in Monday’s game, likely making a few enemies with the Vail opponents.

“Those girls didn’t really like me,” she laughed.

Coach Chelsea Suazo had a limited roster with her go-to goalie, freshman Vanessa Herrera, out sick, putting sophomore Ariana Buchanan in the box instead of being used more on offense.

Despite Buchanan’s strong showing, the Saints crashed the goal right at the start of the second half. She was drawn out again near the end of the game for Vail to net another goal as part of their 2-0 win.

Still, the Bulldogs got in scoring position more than any other game this year and were testing the Saints’ patience.

“That was a good turnout for them for sure,” Suazo said. “They had their chances for sure. We were all around the goal, and it was a great battle for them playing a team of that caliber. It helps us grow a lot.”

Suazo noted that frequent corner kicks were a benefit for the team, though she realized that’s an area of the game that could use some work.

“We don’t get to practice those very often, and only certain girls can take those anyway,” she said.

A deficit of two goals was a welcome change from the past two weeks, which saw MoCo players fall 9-0 to Coal Ridge, 7-0 to Vail Mountain and 10-0 to Basalt.

Though it was one of many shutouts they’ve taken this year, Palacios and Esquivel were still pleased with the outcome.

“We tried really hard this time, and I think we gave it all we got,” Esquivel said. “I love spending time with my teammates, and we really all did all we could with our family and friends out here for us.”

Palacios added that while it’s been a lot of defeats in the last several years, the team’s persistence has always been a point of pride.

“I feel like we’ve done so good in this last game. We still keep going at it every game,” she said.

The Bulldogs round out their schedule with road games against Rifle and Grand Valley this weekend.

Suazo said she hopes the group will keep up the same energy and positivity, especially the players who will return next year.

“I want them to carry out strong,” she said. “I keep telling them, they can play with anyone when they want to. They were right in it, and it shows.”

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