Titans too much for Telluride
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY, Colorado – The 1-0 score didn’t exactly reflect what was going on out on the field.
Coal Ridge had dominated the possession battle and sent countless more shots toward the net. And yet the Titans held the slimmest of leads over visiting Telluride in the first round of the 3A boys soccer state playoffs on Wednesday, a lead that could easily be erased with just one bad hop or mental mistake.
“In a playoff game, when it’s 1-0 and there’s 15 minutes, all we have to do is miss one ball or give up one breakaway and, all of a sudden, we have a tie ball game and who knows what happens,” Coal Ridge coach Brian Blair said.
It took until the 71st minute, but some insurance – and a huge dose of relief – finally came for Blair and the Titans.
Jorge Hernandez delivered in the 71st and Eliel Ruiz added a strike in the 79th to polish off a 3-0 win – the first in Coal Ridge’s boys soccer history.
“We’ve had a couple of games like that, where we sit in somebody’s end and we get good opportunities and it just doesn’t fall,” Blair said. “They have a good goalkeeper and he wasn’t going to give up anything sloppy.”
The win means the 15-1 Titans, seeded 12th in the 32-team playoff bracket, will travel to face No. 5 Weld Central in the second round on Saturday. Weld Central defeated Alexander Dawson, 5-0, in other first-round action on Wednesday.
Coal Ridge took its first step in the second round’s direction in the 16th minute of Wednesday’s game, when a crazy sequence led to a goal by Dusty Hibdon.
With Carlos Rodriguez sending a ball to the middle from the left corner, a short-range shot by Hibdon appeared to ricochet in off a sliding Miners defender, who was attempting to clear the ball out of harm’s way.
“[Carlos] took it to the corner and, just how we always try to set it up in practice, you take it to the corner, send it to the middle and, hopefully, someone’s there to clean it up,” Hibdon said.
The Titans extended their lead when, in that fateful 71st minute, Sam Klomhaus sent a long pass to Jorge Rodriguez. A breakaway resulted, one that Miners goalkeeper Brendan Kelley nearly foiled. The keeper came out to challenge Rodriguez’s run, but Rodriguez managed to get off a roller that found its mark as the two collided.
“It was good to get one there,” Blair said. “Really, in my mind, that sealed the deal. From there, we had control of possession. Really, we had control of possession the whole game.”
With an assist from Carlos Rodriguez, Ruiz dealt the afternoon’s final blow some eight minutes later, angling in a 15-yard roller from the right flat.
Moments later, the whistle blew on perhaps the program’s biggest win to date.
“It’s our senior year and everything,” said Hibdon, one of Coal Ridge’s dozen seniors. “It’s our first playoff game at home. It was nice to see a big crowd here. It means a lot. I think we can go far.”
The loss ended Telluride’s season with a 7-7-1 record.
“We knew those guys had a good record, but it’s soccer and anything can happen,” Miners coach Mick Hill said. “We were only 1-nil down at the break. We thought we still had a chance coming out of it. Our defense kept it good and tight.”
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