Moffat County girls soccer kicks off home opener
For Craig Press
The Moffat County High School girls soccer program may be a young team, but they’re a fierce one as well.
Lady Bulldogs hosted their first home game Tuesday against the Coal Ridge Titans.
A determined defensive effort for the Dogs fought against a persistent scoring spree from the visiting team, one which head coach Chelsea Suazo knew would be a tough one in their home opener.
The Titans got on the board in mere minutes and were up 6-0 by halftime, not for lack of effort by the Dogs’ defenders and goalie Stephanie Esquivel.
Esquivel showed no fear of the oncoming shooters and was scooping up the ball left and right, as well as recording plenty of deflections. However, the downside of her aggressive play was Coal Ridge adapting quickly, hesitating on big shots and getting the advantage through small, afterthought kicks.
“I was trying to pay attention to what my teammates were telling me and pushed up the defense,” she said. “I was just trying to get to the ball, get it out of the way and send it back out. I’m pretty confident in goal because I’m tall and I have pretty good reflexes.”
After the break, the Titans put in another goal as referees began pulling Coal Ridge players off the field one by one. The mercy rule was reached with 20 minutes remaining as play stopped with Titans getting the 10-0 win.
Suazo attributed the game being tougher than expected to issues with positioning as well as players not being quite ready to resume play in the second half.
“After every break we come out a little flat-footed. We’ve got to realize once that whistle blows, we’ve gotta start running,” she said. “I was impressed with our first half. We pulled a lot of things together.”
The JV took the field after the varsity matchup for a shorter, smaller format game rather than the full 11 players on each side, given each team had few athletes ready for a second round.
Though the home game became a shutout, MCHS girls had better luck in their first game on May 7, an 11-1 defeat for varsity against Roaring Fork, with JV falling 8-1.
So far, Esquivel and Laurallie Latham have been the team’s big scorers across both levels.
Esquivel said she enjoys being out on the field as well as in goal.
“I love kicking that ball around with my friends,” she said.
Suazo has an abundance of true freshmen and just as many older players who are in their first year in the sport, including Esquivel, who is a sophomore but was unable to compete last spring due to COVID-19 canceling the girls soccer schedule.
Senior Hannah Vasquez took on the sport this year after spending much of high school years in track and field.
“Running track really helped out with the stamina,” she said. “I feel like if I’d done soccer sooner, I could have gotten pretty good by now doing it all four years.”
Vasquez and fellow first-year senior Kelsey McDiffett were right in the thick of things with Coal Ridge strikers as defenders.
She admitted the intensity of 3A Western Slope League opponents somewhat surprised her.
“I didn’t know they’d have so many good teams. It’s fun to have so much competition,” Vasquez said.
Suazo noted that Vasquez and McDiffett have already shown a knack for drawing opponents offsides, though there are other tactics she’d like players to gain more proficiency with, especially passing on offense to create scoring opportunities.
“We’re realizing we don’t have quite the foot to clear it, so we’ve got to work through our team to get the ball up instead of just sending the ball up like some teams can do,” she said.
MCHS girls will next compete at home Thursday against Delta and May 25 against Aspen.
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