Wright’s 2 goals lead Titans past Saints
A subtle lineup change prior to Tuesday’s kickoff against Vail Christian by Coal Ridge Head Coach Damon Martinez proved to be a great one.
Martinez moved junior outside midfielder Emily Wright up to the front line of the Coal Ridge attack, and in her first action outside of her usual position, Wright came through with two first-half goals, pacing the Titans to a bounceback 6-0 win over the visiting Saints Tuesday at “The Patch” in New Castle.
“I thought the girls played pretty well,” Martinez said. “I thought that last week against Eagle was just an example of the girls playing tough competition, but that game prepared us for today, and that was pretty clear out there today.”
Early on against the Saints, the Titans controlled the pace and possession of the game, peppering the Vail Christian net with crosses from the right wing, but Coal Ridge just couldn’t find that breakthrough moment as Wright was stopped twice in the box by the Vail Christian goalkeeper to keep the game tied at 0-0 despite Coal Ridge pushing hard for the first tally of the game.
Wright took a feed in the box from senior attacker Kaitlyn Harlow at the 33:45 mark of the first half, but Wright’s left-footed shot sailed just over the crossbar. A few minutes later, the ball again found Wright in the box, this time off of a cross from junior forward Jenny Pena, but Wright fired a shot right at the Vail Christian keeper, allowing her to make the stop on the doorstep.
Fortunately for Wright, though, she continued to get a number of looks, leading to her first goal of the game at the 20:56 mark, taking a cross into the box from freshman forward Ashley Allen before then settling the ball at her feet to blast home a shot to the bottom left corner of the net, beating the Vail Christian keeper clean for a 1-0 lead.
“She was very happy today,” Martinez said. “She had kept bugging me that she wanted to play forward, so we moved her up today. She’s fast and aggressive, and she has a great touch. To get her scoring, and to get Kaitlyn [Harlow] scoring was huge for us.”
Roughly eight minutes later junior midfielder Sam Dunn added to the Coal Ridge lead, finding the back of the net off of a cross by junior forward Santana Martinez. Martinez was able to find Dunn thanks to a great through ball from Wright, putting Martinez in great position along left wing to put a great cross into the box.
Holding a 2-0 lead, Wright tacked on one more first-half goal, punching home a loose ball in the box off of a net-front scramble to send the Titans into half with a 3-0 lead that looked to be more than good enough for the win with the Titans possessing the ball for much of the first half.
“We’ve just been working a lot on that [possession], and with any team, when you keep working on something, you get better at it,” Martinez said. “I thought we improved in that area today.”
Coming out for the second half, the Titans picked up right where they left off in the first half by continuing to pepper the Vail Christian net as sophomore forward Alyssa Wenzel fired just high on a great shot from outside of the box, while Dunn and senior midfielder Nicole Mooney just missed goals on long range shots as well.
But the Titans were persistent all game long in their attack, which led to a goal from Harlow at the 28:35 mark of the second half.
Following a wide cross into the box from Wenzel, Harlow was able to slip the ball past the Vail Christian goalkeeper on her second attempt to make it 4-0 Coal Ridge, igniting the rout.
Nearly 20 minutes later the Titans, again maintaining heavy possession of the ball, found the back of the net as sophomore defender Adriana Vargas — playing a midfield role at this point in the game — was able to fire a shot past the Vail Christian goalkeeper to make it 5-0 Titans.
Vargas took a great feed in the box off of a perfectly-placed cross from senior defender Dana Kotz for the goal. But the play really started thanks to a great give-and-go by Kotz and sophomore Amanda McPherson, putting the senior in a great spot to make the cross into the box for Vargas.
Kotz later capped off the 6-0 win by slipping a penalty shot past the Saints’ keeper at the 2:00 mark following a handball in the box by the Saints, giving the Titans the win on their home field.
With the win, Coal Ridge improves to 4-2, 2-0 3A Western Slope League. The Titans will travel to Aspen Thursday for a league matchup with the Skiers at 4 p.m.