Hectic schedule continues as Moffat County boys soccer stays stalwart | CraigDailyPress.com

Hectic schedule continues as Moffat County boys soccer stays stalwart

Andy Bockelman
For Craig Press

As the schedule winds down for Moffat County High School’s boys soccer season, Bulldogs are getting plentiful games in a short timeframe, and as far as their coach is concerned, the busy stretch is only making athletes stronger.

MCHS ended the week at home Friday against Aspen following road games against Basalt Tuesday and Coal Ridge Thursday.

The travel came with some struggles, with the Dogs falling 5-0 against the Longhorns and 7-0 with the Titans. The latter game was especially rough, as Coal Ridge’s Senior Night festivities prompted the hosting squad to hold back nothing.

Moffat County goalkeeper Sabastian Hershiser makes a sliding save against an Aspen forward as Thayne Kitchen defends Friday night at MCHS. (Andy Bockelman / For Craig Press)

“Coal Ridge is always a battle. In Basalt, they fought hard but went into that game slow,” said coach Diego Quezada.

Quezada noted that some of his athletes have been nursing some injuries and could have used more time to recuperate.

“There’s been no time to breathe,” he said.

MoCo boys weren’t anticipating to be back in uniform immediately, but they learned midway through the week that the 3A Western Slope League game against the Skiers — postponed from March 30 — would indeed be happening before a weekend respite.

Despite feeling a bit weary from the recent matches, the Dogs quickly broke into the Aspen defense and got on the attack. The Skiers responded in kind, but MCHS goalie Sabastian Hershiser was on point.

Both sides struggled to hit net, but Aspen caught a break as a collision between Hershiser and his defender left the Skiers a perfect window to knock in the ball 20 minutes into the half.

Aspen seized the opportunity twice more right away in the second half to give the Skiers the 3-0 advantage.

At the 10-minute mark of the second half, a sliding Hershiser save, backed up by MoCo defender Thayne Kitchen, against senior Skier Landon Kiker was deemed a foul, and the resultant penalty kick made the total 4-0, where it would stay until the final whistle.

Moffat County’s Owen Gifford fires a pass upfield against Aspen Friday night at MCHS. (Andy Bockelman / For Craig Press)

“At the end, we were doing some through-passes and attacks, making them tired,” senior Eddie Olivera said. “I think if we’d had a couple more minutes, we could have scored, but we ran out of time.”

For the most part, the Bulldog defense held up when it needed to, Quezada said.

“All of my defenders, this is their first year,” he said. “Two of them are freshmen and Thayne’s a junior who’s a first-year player.”

Besides working in more of his bench players, he tested where some of his starters would be best, including putting in Erik Payan at striker.

Payan was able to press the ball further into Aspen territory than he expected, though the Skiers put as many as four of their ranks on him to keep him from getting his shooting in action.

“This is the first time I’ve been a striker, but honestly I think I’m better at midfielder. That way I can be involved in everything,” Payan said.

He added that he’s comfortable nearly anywhere on the field.

“Coach says I’m very versatile,” he said.

Season C has flown by for the Bulldogs, and though the unusual circumstances and compact schedule of the spring have had their downside, Quezada anticipates that it might be easier to get returning players back in shape during the summertime as boys soccer amps up again in just a few months down the road for the more familiar fall schedule.

Moffat County's Jose Martinez knocks the ball out of the air Friday against Aspen at MCHS. (Andy Bockelman / For Craig Press)

“As soon as the season’s over, I don’t really want to end it. I wanna keep some practices going, keep improving touch and get some scrimmages in where they allow us,” he said. “I’ve gotta take advantage of those four months and keep kids in shape so by August we’re ready to go.”

MCHS soccer will host its final game at 4 p.m. April 15 against Delta, which will include Senior Night activities.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.