Titans ready to ‘play beautiful’ in semifinals
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
They’ve been living up to the words on the back of their playoff T-shirts.
That’s Portuguese for “play beautiful” and is a commonly used phrase among soccer players worldwide. Thus far in the Class 3A boys soccer playoffs, Coal Ridge High School’s players have been doing just that.
“The shirts say it perfectly,” first-year head coach Mike Mikalakis said. “Play beautifully – that’s what we do.”
Playing beautifully has the third-seeded Titans (17-1) in the state semifinals. They’ll face No. 2 Colorado Academy (17-0-1) at All City Stadium in Denver on Wednesday night. Game time is 7 p.m.
This is the deepest Coal Ridge has ever advanced in the playoffs. In 2010, it made the quarterfinals.
With a 3-1 win over visiting Frontier Academy on Friday, the 2012 Titans took their success to an unprecedented level, validating their No. 3 seed in the process.
“We deserved our No. 3,” sophomore goalkeeper Junior Contreras stated in the joyous aftermath of Friday’s triumph. “We showed why we got it.”
There’s a perception that Western Slope schools often get overlooked when it comes to playoff seeding, so when a team from this side of the mountains does earn a high seed, it’s important to do something with it.
“With the Front Range schools, there’s always a little intimidation because those schools have traditionally been better,” Mikalakis said after Friday’s quarterfinal win. “I think what we need to do is get in the kids’ heads that we can play with anybody. We can play with any team out there. We’re playing our style and not worrying about the past. That’s one of the biggest reasons why we were able to build and keep on improving game after game.”
Sure enough, Coal Ridge has all-Front Range company in the round of four. Colorado Academy is located in Denver and the classification’s other two semifinalists – No. 5 Kent Denver (14-3-1) and No. 8 Faith Christian (9-8-1) – hail from the Denver area.
Junior JJ Myers leads a balanced Colorado Academy attack with 11 goals. Junior Robert Wright has 10 goals for the Mustangs, who are also strong in the defense and goalkeeping departments. They’ve allowed just seven goals all season, and junior goalkeeper Jack Thomas has made 70 saves.
The Titans are led offensively by junior forward Edgar Enriquez, who has 32 goals and 18 assists. Senior midfielder Jorge Hernandez has 13 goals and 16 assists. Senior forward Jose Rodriguez has 11 goals and nine assists and has found net four times in three playoff games.
Mix in a stingy defense and solid goalkeeping and you have the type of beautiful play that Coal Ridge does its best to execute.
“With this group of kids, it is beautiful,” Mikalakis said. “They played so well and they’ve deserved every minute of this.”
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