Sister act: Mitchells lift Coal Ridge
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY, Colorado – Little sister tied things up. Big sister finished it off.
A 73rd-minute goal by freshman Rebecca Mitchell and an overtime strike by her senior sister, Kourtney, lifted Coal Ridge to a 2-1 overtime win over visiting Discovery Canyon in the second round of the 3A girls soccer state playoffs on Saturday.
As a result, the Titans are headed to the Class 3A state quarterfinals for the first time in the school’s five-year history.
And they did it in gritty fashion.
A 30th-minute score by Discovery Canyon’s Andi Marchant put Coal Ridge in an early hole, one the Titans didn’t escape until Rebecca Mitchell’s wild goal with roughly seven minutes left in regulation.
Alicia Cokley started the controversial sequence by sending a cross toward center from deep in the left corner. The ball somehow found its way through a scrum and deep into the 18-yard box, where Mitchell got her body on the ball after a high hop.
As the ball dropped back toward the ground, Discovery Canyon goalkeeper Taylor Barbato got a hand on it but didn’t secure possession. So Mitchell swung her left toe at the ball and knocked it in.
As Coal Ridge celebrated, Thunder head coach Bill McMaster questioned the call, telling the referees his keeper had possession of the ball.
After the game, he echoed the in-game sentiment.
“According to the picture our photographer took, [Barbato] had it in her hands,” the coach said. “The girl bumped her and the referee didn’t see it. It happens, but it’s still a foul, whether or not she has the ball.”
Mitchell’s account of the goal varied.
“I just saw it come and trapped it. She had one hand on it and the other half of it was on the ground. Then I just kicked it with my toe and it went in.”
Big sister’s game-winner wasn’t controversial.
With just a few minutes left in the second and final overtime, Cokley sent a long pass to the center of the field, where Kourtney Mitchell met the ball with her left foot. With Discovery Canyon’s Megan Guerin defending, Mitchell set up a high-percentage shot.
“I just saw the ball coming across and I could hear her coming near,” Mitchell said. “She had been breathing hard. I could hear it and I could start to see her. I’m like, ‘Oh no, oh no. If I shoot with my left, I’m gone.’ So I kicked it back [to my right foot] and went opposite corner. It went in.”
Mitchell’s well-struck roller triggered a massive celebration. With his arms spread out like wings, Coal Ridge coach Brian Blair led a sideline’s worth of euphoric players onto the field to greet Mitchell and company.
“It feels really good to finish on top,” said the Titans’ older Mitchell sister. “They are a really good team. They gave us some troubles in the beginning. I think all of our endurance training put us on top.”
Coal Ridge, seeded sixth in the 32-team state playoffs, will put its endurance to the test against third-seeded St. Mary’s (13-3-1) in the quarterfinals on Thursday. St. Mary’s, which is located in Colorado Springs, will host.
In making the Great Eight – one round deeper than they advanced last season – the Titans realized a season-long goal.
“That was the last of our goals as a team,” said Blair, in his fourth year as Coal Ridge’s head coach. “We had to get to the Great Eight, so we could experience that and see what the level of play it is. To accomplish it the way they did, with pure grit and fight, was very, very impressive.”
With that last goal in the bag, the Titans (14-1-2) plan to play hard and see what happens the rest of the playoffs.
“This was our goal,” Kourtney Mitchell said. “Anything else is just icing on the cake. … I mean, we’re still going to keep fighting for it. We’re not going to back down, but it feels really good to get our goals.”
Discovery Canyon, a Colorado Springs school in just its third year of existence, wrapped up its season with an 11-6 record. The team has no seniors on the roster this season.
“We have something to build for next year,” McMaster said. “I think we’ll be moving up to 4A next year. We’ll be in the Colorado Springs Metro League, which currently has three teams in the top six. It’s good for them to learn how to deal with adversity, tough situations.”
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