Verdieck leads Coal Ridge to shutout win at Basalt
The Aspen Times
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
BASALT, Colorado – At game’s end, Coal Ridge goalkeeper Tori Verdieck grinned widely as she picked up teammates and twirled them in her arms.
Seems fitting. The senior carried the Titans throughout in Saturday’s 3A Western Slope League showdown with Basalt (7-1-3).
Verdieck sprawled out to turn away multiple Longhorns shots – including a penalty kick in the second half that would’ve squared the match. Coal Ridge scored once in the first half and twice during stoppage time in the second, pulling out a 3-0 victory to assume sole possession of first place in the conference.
Verdieck and the Titans (7-0-1) have yet to allow a goal this season.
“I think their coach said it best. This was a 3-3 game except for the fact that we had Tori,” Coal Ridge head coach Brian Blair said. “She made at least three saves that most high school keepers don’t get to.”
“She’s the player of the year for sure,” Basalt head coach Makenzie Eshelman added. “She makes an extremely good Coal Ridge team great.
“Those chances go in against everyone except her.”
In the final minute of the first half, the Longhorns’ Noel Chiarelli sprinted past a defender, controlled a pass from Ginevra Moore and was all alone as she bore down on Verdieck.
Verdieck instinctively dove to her right to turn away the shot and preserve the Titans’ one-goal advantage. (Coal Ridge freshman Rebecca Mitchell tapped home a deflection in traffic on a corner kick in the 24th minute.)
The Longhorns’ best chance to square the game came in the 60th minute when, after a Titans player was whistled for a hand-ball in the box, Annette Stenstadvold lined up for a penalty kick.
“I watched her eyes, and she kept looking to [my] right,” Verdieck said. “I guessed.”
And guessed right. She stretched out nearly horizontal to the ground to thwart Stenstadvold’s attempt.
“All of a sudden I see her extend – she can get to anything in that frame,” Blair said.
Sam Wilson all but sealed a Coal Ridge win in stoppage time, when she lined a penalty kick past Basalt goalkeeper Jamie Matherly. After nearly 80 tense, physical minutes that felt more like a postseason bout than a midseason league contest, Blair finally cracked a smile and pumped his fists.
Kayli Hunter provided some insurance with a goal little more than a minute later.
“We played really well. That’s soccer,” Eshelman said. “You can dominate the whole game and still lose. I feel good about our movement toward [the goal]. At least we’re creating chances at this point.
“If [Verdieck] plays anything like that, everyone is going to have a hard time. … She was just phenomenal.”
The Titans will look to extend their shutout streak at 4 p.m. Tuesday when it hosts Roaring Fork. Basalt hosts Rangely at 4 p.m. Monday.
“If you don’t get this victory, you think about it for a long time,” Blair said. “If you do, you relish it for a long time.”
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