DENVER, Colorado - Their historic playoff run is over, but the Titans proved they can play with the best teams in the state.
Griffin O'Brien scored two goals and Adam Pollack added an insurance tally as Colorado Academy brought to an end the most successful season in Coal Ridge boys soccer program history in Wednesday's Class 3A state semifinals. Pollack's score, which came early in the second half at All City Stadium in Denver, rounded out the final count at 3-1.
The Titans, playing in the Final Four for the first time, finished up their season at 17-2.
"I definitely think the kids gave everything they had," Coal Ridge coach Mike Mikalakis said. "They did their best. Colorado Academy is a great team. Overall, we gave a really awesome effort."
Colorado Academy (18-0-1) took the lead in the seventh minute on the first of two first-half goals by O'Brien and the first of two opening-half assists by JJ Meyers.
Meyers worked his way deep into the left corner and centered a ball to O'Brien, who got a shot off in the face of pressure from a sliding defender for a point-blank goal.
Edgar Enriquez leveled the count at 1-all in the 20th minute, taking a pass from teammate Jose Rodriguez that somehow squeezed through traffic before burying a mid-range shot.
The Mustangs cashed in on the Meyers-to-O'Brien connection again in the 29th minute. This time, Meyers sent his pass in from the right corner.
Pollack extended Colorado Academy's lead to 3-1 less than four minutes into the second half, advancing deep into the left side of the 18-yard box, taking a pass from teammate Robert Wright and burying a short shot.
Teamwork carried the Mustangs on a frigid night in Denver.
"I think it really comes down to the fact that we play so well as a team," said Meyers, a junior. "Individually, we're all good players but not great. Then we come together as team and just play so well. I think that's really what it really comes down to."
Added O'Brien, a senior: "It feels pretty great. We've been working from day one on this moment."
Colorado Academy will face No. 5 Kent Denver (15-3-1) in Saturday's 11 a.m. state title game at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. The Sun Devils defeated No. 8 Faith Christian (9-9-1) on penalty kicks in Friday's early semifinal at All City. Still tied at 1 after two scoreless 15-minute overtime periods, Kent Denver won the penalty kick battle, 5-4.
As for Coal Ridge, it's back to the Western Slope, where their 2012 postseason run will no doubt be remembered for some time.
"Oh yeah," Mikalakis said. "Coming to the Final Four and having such a good time and such a good squad. Every one of these boys are stand-up citizens, stand-up young men. They're all fun to be around. They put their hearts into playing soccer.
"I know this hurts, and I know we came close to reaching the goal we set for ourselves, but throughout the season we saw just exceptional young boys turn into great young men by the end of it."