Playoffs next as Coal Ridge soccer wraps regular season |

Playoffs next as Coal Ridge soccer wraps regular season

Coal Ridge soccer’s Eddie Salazar chases the ball during the team’s 5-0 home win against Palisade on Oct. 19.
Rich Allen/Post Independent

The regular season was a formality for the Coal Ridge Titans.

With 3A state playoffs the next thing on the calendar, it’s time for the real work to begin.

“Our practices have changed a lot,” senior Eddie Salazar said. “We’re getting more focused in. We want it.”

The Titans went 13-2 overall and 7-1 in the 3A/4A Western Slope League West — a temporary league alignment brought on by the uncertainty of Glenwood Canyon. The only blemishes on their record were losses to Vail Mountain, ranked fourth in the state in 3A, and Roaring Fork, the only league team higher in the standings than the Titans.

Coal Ridge will not walk away as league champions as they did in the spring season. But a successful run through a front-loaded non-league schedule against stiff competition paid off. MaxPreps recognizes Coal Ridge as the ninth best 3A squad in the state. The Colorado High School Activities Association’s Rating Percentage Index system places them eighth. The two rankings weigh strength of schedule in their evaluations of teams.

The same systems put Roaring Fork at 10th and 11th, respectively.

Coal Ridge started the season with back-to-back wins over KIPP Denver Collegiate and Kent Denver, two strong clubs hanging within the top 25 of the state. KIPP was responsible for the Titans’ dispatching from the spring playoffs in the round of eight, making for a nice redemption win.

The Titans got a taste of the playoffs a year ago and gained some momentum from the KIPP victory.

“We’ve got that mentality of, ‘We’ve got some stuff to prove,’” Titans head coach Michael Mikalakis said. “We’re ready to do it.”

A 5-0 senior victory over Palisade on Tuesday gave the Titans their eighth shutout of the season. They outscored opponents 55-15 overall.

Even after losing reigning 3A Western Slope League player of the year Jack Price last season, the roster remains filled with regulars from the spring season team that went undefeated.

Mikalakis thinks that playoff experience can only benefit the team this season.

“When you get teams that are new to the playoffs, it’s a lot of pressure and they don’t know what to expect,” Mikalakis said. “I’ve really seen my team start to peak right now and I think we’re coming off of a really good high that we can focus on.

“We’re ready and prepared for that playoff game.”

A top-10 rating will give the Titans a home match. Visiting teams will have to play at Coal Ridge’s slightly larger, slightly slanted field.

From there, it’s a trip to the Front Range for the semifinals and beyond. It culminates at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs on Nov. 12.

“We want it all,” Salazar said.

The first round of the playoffs begins on Oct. 27.

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