Excitement level is high for Titans soccer
Head Coach: Michael Mikalakis, seventh year
Last Season: 8-7-1, 4-3-1 in 3A Western Slope League, lost to Colorado Springs Christian in first round of state playoffs
Key Returners: Ivan Gallardo, Sr.; Landon Stickler, Sr.; Cody Connor, Jr.; Moises Contreras, Jr.; Jack Price, Jr.; Dominic Centeno, Jr.; JP Gallardo, Sr.
Players to Watch: Emmanuel Navarro, Sr.
It took a bit to get going last year for the Coal Ridge Titans boys soccer team, but once things settled into place, the Titans took off down the stretch to reach the playoffs once again under veteran head coach Michael Mikalakis.
While things didn’t end in the playoffs the way the Titans were hoping for, Coal Ridge sees a number of key players from last year’s team return this fall, led by senior forward Ivan Gallardo, who scored a team-high 17 goals last fall.
Also back this fall is former standout defender Moises Contreras, a junior, who makes the switch back to soccer after playing football last fall. Contreras should pair with junior Dominic Centeno, senior JP Gallardo, and junior goalkeeper Cody Connor to give the Titans a shutdown back line this fall under Mikalakis.
“I’m really excited about our defense this year,” Mikalakis said. “They’re going to play well back there for us and will be a strength for us.”
Much like Rifle football, Coal Ridge volleyball, and as of late, Glenwood and Roaring Fork soccer, the Coal Ridge boys soccer program is perennially strong, and that should remain the same this fall, thanks to the veteran leadership and skill level Mikalakis has at his disposal in the Titans’ program.
“I think every year we’re going to be competitive for our area,” Mikalakis said. “That’s a huge piece to our success. It’s been great to watch other teams around us really get better. Roaring Fork making a deep run; Basalt getting better and better…for us, that competition helps raise our level of play. For us, we’re looking to be competitive and within the mix every single game.”
Being in the mix in every game shouldn’t be a problem for the Titans this fall, should they build off of the great run they had down the stretch last fall to reach the playoffs. The ups and downs the program went through on the field last year has them prepared for much of anything they’ll face this season, while also strengthening their bond as a team.
“I’m really excited for the camaraderie of this team and how they are excited for this season,” Mikalakis said. “It’s a breath of fresh air for this season. We’ll have success, will have some losses, but we’ll learn and continue to grow and be able to be what Coal Ridge soccer has been for this decade.”
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Former Rifle Bears standout turned starting running back for Western Colorado University Ty Leyba remembers it like it was yesterday.