Titans make history, on to soccer’s Final Four
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
PEACH VALLEY, Colorado – Before breaking the halftime huddle, a Coal Ridge player had some words of encouragement for his team.
“Let’s go to the semifinals!” he shouted. “Let’s make history!”
The Titans went on to author a little school history, all right.
Jorge Hernandez lofted a free kick from roughly 30 yards in the 76th minute that found its mark. The tiebreaking goal helped Coal Ridge to a 3-1 win over Frontier Academy in Friday’s Class 3A boys soccer state quarterfinals.
Hernandez’s teammate, Edgar Enriquez, added an insurance goal moments later to put the finishing touch on a program-defining win for the third-seeded Titans, who improved to 17-1 and advanced to the Final Four for the first time in school history. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, they’ll face No. 2 Colorado Academy in the semifinals at All City Stadium in Denver.
“I’m proud to be a Titan,” proclaimed Hernandez, a senior. “That’s all I have to say. We’re history in the making.”
Hernandez’s long free kick skimmed off the fingertips of Frontier Academy goalkeeper Austin Baumeister. As it bounced toward net behind him, Baumeister did his best to chase it down but couldn’t recover to make the save.
“It was unfortunate the way that goal went in, but that happens,” Wolverines coach Kennan Reinert said. “He saved a lot of difficult ones.”
Baumeister kept Coal Ridge frustrated much of the afternoon, making countless acrobatic saves and regularly diving on loose balls to diffuse threats.
His counterpart, Junior Contreras, was equally stingy against a relentless Frontier Academy attack.
“They have some great shooters,” lauded Contreras, the Titans’ sophomore keeper. “We just had to play it like another game. We couldn’t let them score if we wanted to stay in it.”
After a scoreless opening half, the Wolverines broke through for the game’s first score in the 49th minute. Isaac Reinert served in a corner kick that went off Contreras’ hands and trickled out to Keenan Mai, who appeared to head the ball into the net.
Coal Ridge answered with the equalizer in the 54th minute. Enriquez rolled a cross to Jose Rodriguez, who finished and resuscitated the Titans’ Final Four hopes.
“We’re resilient,” Coal Ridge coach Mike Mikalakis said. “That’s one thing about this team. We had one bad game this year. I think we learned from that and we’re playing to our potential. I can’t be any happier with how the kids played. … They did not quit. They did not give up.”
And Rodriguez’s goal, made possible by Enriquez’s pass, perfectly epitomizes the Titans’ style of play.
“That’s what we’ve been preaching all year long: Play to the feet, look for the better shot,” Mikalakis said. “I think we showed that and came up big.”
No. 6 Frontier Academy, a Greeley school, wrapped its most successful boys soccer season with a 15-1-2 record. Coach Reinert said that, coming into this season, the Wolverines hadn’t won a state playoff game. This time around, they won two.
“We just started going to state five years ago,” he said. “These are the first couple state wins. We’ve steadily brought the program up to new levels, so we’re excited about that.”
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