Rams score early, hang on for win over Bulldogs on Senior Night
A goal eight minutes into the game from junior Aidan Sloan was just enough for the Roaring Fork Rams’ boys soccer team to hold on for a 1-0 win Thursday night in Carbondale for Senior Night over the visiting Moffat County Bulldogs in a physical 3A Western Slope League matchup with just one week left to go in the regular season.
Sloan found the back of the net at the 8:16 mark of the first half, beating the Moffat County keeper low to the left corner of the goal after taking a terrific feed from senior defenseman Trevor Stroud.
Stroud, honored at halftime for Senior Night with five other Roaring Fork seniors, received a back pass from a Ram forward before lofting the ball in the air over the Moffat County back line, sending Sloan on a great run down the right wing before the junior buried his shot for the first goal of the game that would turn out to be the lone goal for either team.
While Sloan will get the accolades for the goal, the pass from Stroud was the key to the fast start for Roaring Fork.
“He’s [Stroud] just a really smart player, and he always has been,” Roaring Fork head coach Nick Forbes said of the fourth-year player playing in his final home game. “He always knows what he needs to do with the ball, and he knows what the situation needs. He’s one of my most reliable players, and he’s been that way for the last four years. He’s a great energy kid on the team and has the right attitude and mindset. You tell him to run through a wall for you, he’ll do it. He’s just a great kid. He played a great ball in and a great finish from Aidan Sloan.”
After taking a quick 1-0 lead, the Roaring Fork offense bogged down in the first half as the two teams battled for possession at midfield.
Late in the first half the Rams seemed to find their groove offensively as senior captain Edwin Candela blasted a shot on goal from 40 yards out that was a tough save for the Moffat keeper. A few minutes later a free kick from the Rams from around 30 yards out went just over the crossbar, but the best scoring chance of the night for Roaring Fork came when the Rams gained possession in the box, but a shot from point-blank range skipped just over the crossbar, sending the two teams into the half with Roaring Fork holding a 1-0 lead.
“I think some of the issues offensively had to do with us playing all of the seniors to start the game on their final home game,” Forbes said. “Plus, we just got a bunch of kids back from eligibility, so we were trying to work them in. We had a lot of lineups out there tonight that just weren’t used to each other, but I thought the boys played well and battled all game long.”
Following an extended halftime session due to Senior Night, the two teams took the field for the second half as the Rams looked to add on to the lead.
But much like the first half, the second half would be a battle near midfield before the Rams found their footing offensively late.
Sloan had two chances in the second half to stretch the lead for the Rams, but both his chances were stopped by the Moffat keeper, while junior Ronald Clemente made a great through-ball pass to senior Marco Ramos streaking up the right wing. The senior’s shot sailed just wide left of the goal, keeping the score at 1-0 as times continued to tick away.
In stoppage time, Moffat mounted two late chances, but Candela — on his final night at home for the Rams — cleared the ball away from an open Moffat attacker, preserving the 1-0 win, setting up a pivotal road week next week for the Rams as they travel to Coal Ridge Oct. 17 for a showdown with the Titans before traveling to Delta Oct. 20 for a matchup with the Panthers in a game that could have 3A Western Slope League championship aspirations on the line.
By knocking off the Bulldogs, Roaring Fork improves to 10-2 (4-1 3A WSL) on the season.