Coal Ridge blanks Basalt, clinches 3A Slope soccer crown
Aspen, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY, Colo. – Imitation is flattery, and Coal Ridge’s girls soccer program is doing its best Basalt impersonation.
With a 3-0 win over the visiting Longhorns on Thursday, the Titans wrapped up their third straight 3A Western Slope title. And Coal Ridge coach Brian Blair doesn’t hesitate to give Basalt credit in helping shape the Titans’ budding dynasty.
“They just kicked our butts the first few years,” Blair said. “That taught us what winning looks like. Ever since then, that’s been our model. … We admire them so much. We always have. That’s what we wanted to be.”
They’re not quite up to 11 straight titles yet, but the Titans have set the foundation for a dynasty of their own.
They needed a little help to get title No. 3, though.
Locked in a three-way race for the league crown with the Longhorns and Vail Mountain School, Coal Ridge needed a win over Basalt and VMS to either lose or tie in its Thursday game at Aspen.
When news of the Skiers’ and Gore Rangers’ scoreless draw hit Peach Valley, the Titans went wild.
“They celebrated like no other,” Blair said. “They’re really excited. They kind of feel like they’re a Cinderella story now.”
Losing 10 seniors from last year’s title team, Blair and company weren’t sure what to expect in 2011. As the season wore on, Coal Ridge caught fire.
Since a 2-1 loss to VMS on April 5, the Titans have won eight straight. They’ve surrendered only four goals during that streak.
“We’re getting our touches together and getting everything together,” junior Zoe Reece said. “It took a while, but I think our team has a really amazing connection. Our team is like a family. We’re not like a normal team. We call our coach dad.”
Dad’s team got on the board first on Thursday thanks to Reece, whose 25-yard free kick put Coal Ridge up 1-0 at the tail end of the 30th minute.
“I just kind of listened to my coach,” she said. “He told me upper left 90 was where he wanted it. That’s where I placed it.”
Freshman Paige Ryan added to the advantage just before halftime, taking a pass from Alicia Cokley and blitzing past charging goalkeeper Cira Mylott. The ball appeared to ricochet off Mylott as the keeper challenged, but Ryan hung with the play, regained possession and then tapped the ball into a wide-open net.
Ryan rounded out the count with a score in the 58th minute, using her speed to gain separation from the defense before directing a roller across the line. Amanda Wenzel assisted.
“I think we had some really amazing teamwork that got us a long way,” Reece said. “We had great communication and great thoughts on where to put the ball. We just had a couple nice finishes from Alicia and Paige.”
With a shorthanded bench, Basalt never could mount a comeback. The Longhorns ended the game down four starters after in-game injuries to Ginevra Moore and Lindsay Corzine.
“We were tired,” Basalt coach Makenzie Eshelman said. “We don’t have any subs and we were missing Alex Dewind and Stephanie Alvarado, so we were down four starters, but they played with heart and that’s all I can ask of them. I’m proud they kept their heads up. The ball didn’t seem to bounce our way, but that’s soccer.”
The Longhorns wrapped up the season with a 10-4-1 overall record and 7-1-1 league mark. Like league mates Coal Ridge, Vail Mountain and Aspen, they’re eagerly awaiting the results of Sunday’s 3A playoff bracket seeding meeting. According to the Colorado High School Activities Association’s 2011 girls soccer bulletin, first-round games are slated for Wednesday.
Coal Ridge polished off a 13-2 regular season and finished with an 8-1 record in league play.
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The Longhorns track and field prowess was most evident with their runners, winning multiple events and showing they are to be a factor for podiums, if not state championships, later this month at the state meet in Lakewood.