Change makes no difference to Titans
PEACH VALLEY — Sergio Valentin needed to come off the field to change clothes during Coal Ridge High School’s Class 3A state playoff match against the Alexander Dawson Mustangs on Friday afternoon. When the sophomore returned to the field, he sparked an offensive surge for the Titans that never changed.
Valentin’s first goal gave Coal Ridge the lead for good, and his second goal in a crowd was part of a second-galf scoring spree that helped the Titans cruise to an 8-0 first-round victory at The Pasture.
“Last year he was that little spark or energy, and this year he’s that little spark of energy,” Coal Ridge coach Mike Mikalakis said. “And that’s huge, even if he did have to change his clothes in the middle of the game.”
During the opening minutes of the match, Valentin was temporarily sent off by the officiating crew when his blue uniform shorts didn’t match his white uniform top. He left the field to put on a pair of white shorts which read No. 5 while the top of his uniform read No. 20.
When he came back, he took an upfield pass and zipped past a lone defender in the backfield who slipped on the turf, then punched the ball into the upper-right corner of the net past goalkeeper Tyler Morley in the ninth minute to give the Titans a lead they’d never relinquish.
“I’ve never had to do that,” said Valentin, who scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season. “I thought it was kind of weird that I had to change in front of everybody, but I was pretty happy with what happened afterward.”
Coal Ridge (13-2-1 overall), the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, is happy to be moving on in the postseason. The Titans will play a second-round match against Sheridan, a 2-1 overtime winner over Manitou Springs in the second playoff match of the day at CRHS. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.
Enrique Bucio finished with a pair of goals and four assists, bring his state-high assist total to 32. Edgar Enriquez also scored twice with an assist, and Tias Dacuma and Charles Apostolik also found the net for Coal Ridge.
The Titans dictated the tempo throughout the game, holding the Mustangs (7-8-0) without a shot on goal thanks primarily to their ball-possession tactics. Meanwhile, Morley finished with 14 saves in net for Dawson, with his play in goal easily keeping Coal Ridge from reaching a double-digit goal total.
“Their overall speed was very hard for us to deal with,” Alexander Dawson coach Josh Shemroske said. “We’ve seen that type os speed, but from one player. But their whole team has it. When one guys would attack, we could slow him down and he’d pass it, but the next guy with the ball would be just as fast.
“They’re the best team we’ve played this year,” the coach continued. “We’ve played [The Classical Academy] this year and lost 7-1 … but I think these guys are better.”
Valentin’s goal was part of an opening attack by the Titans where they took six shots in the first 12 minutes. They went up 2-0 in the 13th minute when Bucio capitalized on a 1-on-1 scoring opportunity , and a goal off a 20-yard shot from Enriquez in the 33rd minute gave the Titans a 3-0 halftime lead.
Bucio made it 4-0 with his goal in the 43rd minute. And just five minutes later, Bucio’s high-arching corner kick slipped past the head of Enriquez and to Valentin in a crowd, and the sophomore deflected the ball in past Morely for a commanding five-goal cushion.
“I’m not going to lie. I didn’t think I was going to get it,” Valentin said of Bucio’s corner kick. “I saw it coming toward me and was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I’m lucky that I got it.”
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.