PEACH VALLEY — Grand Valley High School’s girls soccer team knew what needed to be done to stop the Coal Ridge Titans on Saturday. Paige Ryan made sure that didn’t happen.
Ryan, a senior forward for Coal Ridge, netted a hat trick a day after she was inactive for the Titans’ first-round game. It lifted Coal Ridge to a 4-0 victory over the Cardinals in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs, sending the sixth-seeded Titans into the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive season.
“We knew that they were going to come out hard,” Coal Ridge coach Micah Herron said. “They have the ability to poke a couple of goals in the net really quickly, and we were good enough to make sure that didn’t happen.”
The overall effort was good enough to move the Titans (16-1-0 overall) into the Class 3A quarterfinals. Coal Ridge will travel to third-seeded St. Mary’s of Colorado Springs, a 5-0 winner over Denver School of Science and Technology in another second-round game on Saturday. The game time and site will be determined early next week.
Ryan, who sat out the Titans’ 3-0 victory over The Pinnacle on Friday, gave Coal Ridge all of the scoring it needed against the Cardinals. Aileen Galaviz-Vega added the fourth and final goal in the 59th minute to cap the scoring, but Ryan’s added presence in the lineup made a big difference in giving her team the lead for good.
“Her intensity and her range and, obviously, her ability to score are huge,” said Herron of Ryan, whose three goals gave her 29 for the season. “Obviously, her hat trick today shows that she’s a special player.”
Grand Valley (14-3-0), which was riding a school-record 13-game winning streak headed into Saturday’s matchup, was held scoreless for the first time this season. That included Grand Valley senior Ashlynn Speakman, whose 33 goals headed into the game were tops among Colorado soccer players in all classifications. Speakman early last week signed to play for Fort Lewis College in Durango next fall.
“I expected them to put multiple goals on the net, but I fully expected that we’d be able to get one or two,” first-year Grand Valley coach Scott Gregory said. “We had plenty of opportunities, but they had plenty of people behind the ball. It’s hard to find those spots when you have four people up and they have nine people back.”
Meanwhile, Ryan got the ball rolling in Coal Ridge’s favor thanks to Amanda Wenzel. The senior lofted a corner kick to Ryan eight yards in front of the net, and Ryan headed it to the far-left side of the net for a 1-0 Titans’ lead in the 11th minute to send the big crowd in attendance to its feet.
“That was amazing,” said Wenzel, who will play soccer at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction in the fall. “We’ve been working on that play all year. We were able to pull it off a couple of times before, but in this game it meant so much more.”
Ryan made it 2-0 in the 24th minute, pinpointing her shot from 30 yards away to the far upper-righthand corner of the net. And in the 49th minute, after Jenny Call was tripped in the box by Grand Valley’s Codi Metcalf, Ryan sealed the hat trick with her penalty kick goal past Grand Valley goalkeeper Erin Schuckers.
Galaviz-Vega finished the Titans’ scoring, and Coal Ridge held off a late offensive push by the Cardinals to retain the shutout. The Titans outshot the Cardinals, 19-6, and Schuckers finished with 12 saves.
Now, Coal Ridge will move on to the next round against a St. Mary’s team that has a successful history against the Titans. The Pirates beat Coal Ridge 5-1 in the second round of the 2012 state playoffs.
“I think that we have enough strength and togetherness for us to reach the next level,” Wenzel said.