Early goal the difference in Coal Ridge shutout over CRMS | PostIndependent.com

Early goal the difference in Coal Ridge shutout over CRMS

Jeff Caspersen Post Independent

PEACH VALLEY – Before the fall boys soccer season ever started, Coal Ridge hoped to shed its program’s reputation for underachieving.

So far, so good.

No matter what happens from here on out, the Titans are bound for the postseason for the first time in the school’s five-year history. And, after Saturday’s 1-0 win over visiting Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Coal Ridge has a shot at bagging a decent playoff seed.

“From the very first practice, they knew what they wanted to do,” Titans coach Brian Blair said. “I think they’ve been, quite honestly, embarrassed by the way we’ve played the last couple years and they wanted to change the perception of our school.”

At 7-4 and with 21 points in the 3A Western Slope League, Blair’s squad now sits at second in the standings with one league game remaining. If Coal Ridge, 9-5 overall, holds firm in that slot, the reward could very well be a favorable playoff seed.

“It’s really important to get second and get a higher seed. We’d get a better chance to move on in the playoffs,” said junior Luis Pena, who put the Titans on the board in the fifth minute of Saturday’s win over the Oysters.

Pena’s goal, which found the upper left corner of the net, was a left-footed bullet through a tiny window in the defense.

“[Ryan Zelenka] took on like two defenders and dropped in back to me,” said the ambidextrous Pena. “I just looked at the goal and set it for myself.”

Although they generated numerous scoring opportunities down the stretch, the equalizer never came for the Oysters, who dropped to 6-2-2, both overall and in league play.

“We’ve had this kind of history all season of coming out a little slow and waiting for something to fire us up,” CRMS coach Dan Pittz relayed. “This time it came back to haunt us. We gave up that first 10 minutes and it played evenly the rest of the game. … We just didn’t find the back of the net.”

Like Coal Ridge, Pittz and company already have a playoff spot locked up. With two games remaining – a Monday tilt at Vail Mountain and a Wednesday trip across Carbondale to face Roaring Fork – the Oysters still have a shot to vault past the Titans and into second.

Coal Ridge closes its regular season Thursday against visiting Aspen. A strong finish would do wonders for the Titans.

“We knew we would most likely get a playoff spot a few weeks ago, just because of the way things were shaping up,” Blair said. “But a playoff spot as the four seed is a whole different thing than at a three or two. It’s big for us.

“All we can do is take care of our part.”

The first round of the Class 3A playoffs, which will feature four of the Slope’s seven schools in a field of 32 teams, is slated for Oct. 28.


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