At long last, Coal Ridge takes down Basalt in boys soccer
The Aspen Times
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
BASALT, Colorado – Brian Blair doesn’t want Coal Ridge to get ahead of itself. After all, this is just one win – it will not even count toward the conference standings.
Still, the Titans’ head soccer coach couldn’t help but smile after Thursday’s hard-fought win at Basalt.
“I think this is the first time we’ve ever beaten them,” he said. “In one way, this means nothing. … But in another, psychologically, this is huge. They’re such a good program and are always organized and always dangerous.
“It was nice to see us make the big play at the finish.”
For that, Blair can thank forward Alfonso Hernandez.
The senior staked the Titans to a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute, then, after the Longhorns squared the match late in the second half, he struck twice in little more than a minute to help Coal Ridge seal a 3-1 victory in a battle of 3A Region 3 standouts.
“This is a big confidence boost,” Hernandez said. “This was our main goal. After the last couple, or five years losing to them, we can’t ask for better than this.”
“We just got outplayed a little. We didn’t come as fully prepared as we should have,” Basalt head coach John McDermott added. “There were a couple of bad calls that [the players] seemed to take personally. … That’s the sign of a young team sometimes.”
The call – or lack thereof – McDermott likely was referring to ultimately decided the outcome.
His Longhorns had just battled back to tie the game on a goal in the 79th minute; Santiago Marciani was knocked to the ground during a scrum in front of the net, but he still managed to flick the ball past Titans goalkeeper Tyler Guettler.
About nine minutes later, Hernandez tracked down a ball up the left side and collided a defender, who was knocked to the ground. Hernandez maintained possession and beat Basalt goalkeeper Craig Riggins with a low liner.
The no-call drew consternation from the home bench – they thought Hernandez blatantly shoved their player with his left elbow – but jubilation from the visitors.
“[I don’t think there was a whistle] because I got through him. If he stopped [my progress], then maybe,” Hernandez said. “[The referee] saw me going and let the play go.”
“When it’s physical like that the whole game, it’s tough to take a chance away from a team,” Blair added. “Obviously, I’m biased.”
In their haste to produce the equalizer, the Longhorns flooded the Titans zone soon after. Basalt (1-1) was then caught out of position on a run the opposite way, leaving Hernandez all alone for an easy tap-in to finish off his hat trick.
His first score came in the latter stages of the first half, when two Basalt defenders misplayed a through-ball from Guettler, leaving him to convert a one-on-one opportunity against Riggins.
“We had our chances, we just didn’t exploit them,” McDermott said. “It’s just one of those things.”
“This was a big jump from our other games in terms of aggressiveness and talent,” added Blair, whose squad improved to 3-0 on the young season. “We needed this.”
The two teams are slated to square off again Oct. 19 at Peach Valley.
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