Coal Ridge advances to second round of state tourney with 3-1 win over Sierra

Coal Ridge senior Ezra Williams heads in a beautiful goal during a home playoff game against Sierra on Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Red hot Coal Ridge soccer brushed by Sierra 3-1 Wednesday to nab a first-round state tourney win.

Heading into the 2022 Colorado High School Athletics Association State Championships seeded third, the Titans now take on 19th-seeded Faith Christian on Tuesday. The Eagles are a 7-7-2 team, and they ended the regular season in fifth place in the 3A/2A Metro League.

The Titans’ 2022 exploits so far consist of losing just one game all year and topping the 3A/2A Western Slope chart, and they demonstrated this intimidating fact against Sierra.

Coal Ridge senior Filberto Meraz takes the ball past Sierra goalie Selson Pena-Valdovines on Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Around 15 minutes into the first half, Coal Ridge sophomore Brayden Dacuma passed a floater from outside Sierra’s penalty box. Coal Ridge senior Ezra Williams, going into the game with 24 goals on the season, connected on that floater on the opposite end of the field, heading the ball past Sierra goalkeeper Selson Pena-Valdovines.

“It was a beautiful cross,” Coal Ridge head coach Michael Mikalakis said. “Ezra can be a dynamic scorer, so coming down that touch line and playing that ball really exposed their defensive line.”

The Stallions responded in the second half by capitalizing on an easy look after a collision inside Coal Ridge’s penalty box left Titans junior goalie Jorge Kestler down and out.

“We controlled possession, we had multiple shots on goal and we couldn’t get things to drop for us,” Mikalakis said. “(Sierra) came out and they played really strong in the second half and were really attacking.”

Sierra goalie Selson Pena-Valdovines leaps for the ball amid two Coal Ridge Titans on Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Tied 1-1 with 15 minutes left in the second half, Coal Ridge senior Filberto Meraz found himself on a one-on-one breakaway and snuck the ball past Pena-Valdovines in the corner of the net to put the Titans up 2-1.

Later in the half, Coal Ridge junior Alexis Serna punched the ball in and cleaned up the trash after Pena-Valdovines gave up a rebound in the box. The goal would nail the coffin on Sierra and send the Titans to the second round.

“We played a great possession game, we had a lot of opportunities, and it really lit a fire under them once we got scored on,” Mikalakis said. “You could see a difference in the level of intensity to make sure they got the win.”

Coal Ridge junior Alexis Serna tries to evade a Sierra defender Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Up next, Faith Christian.

“We’ll watch the video, and hopefully, get three good practices to where we can learn from the things that we need to correct from our last game,” Mikalakis said. “We don’t really worry about the next game that’s coming up. We worry more about playing our game and making sure that we execute.”

The Titans are now 13-1-2 overall.

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