Class 3A girls soccer: Plenty of memories motivate the Titans
PEACH VALLEY — Each of the memories of the seniors on Coal Ridge High School’s girls soccer team are pretty special unto themselves.
One of them came from the bus ride back to New Castle following the Titans’ 4-1 loss to St. Mary’s in the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs last year. That’s when coach Micah Herron played a game with his team, putting headphones on and singing along with a song on the bus.
“It was so bad,” senior Molly Mello said, laughing. “It was one of the worst things I think we’ve ever heard.”
Then, there are the ice baths that players would take in their hotel rooms on road trips, which made it likely that members of the team could be seen shuttling buckets of ice to their hotel rooms — the Titans’ own ice-bucket challenge, in a sense.
All of that said, winning a state championship would be another nice memory to add, right?
“Absolutely,” Mello said.
Coal Ridge (11-4-0), the No. 11 seed in the Class 3A state playoffs, will take its first step toward that kind of memory today. The Titans will have a first-round matchup against Sterling (8-6-0) in Greeley at 4 p.m., with the winner moving on to play sixth-seeded Frontier Academy (11-4-0) at 11 a.m. Saturday for a berth in the tournament’s May 14 quarterfinals.
Of course, the Titans will bring a bunch of memories from past postseason experiences into the state playoffs, also. After all, the Titans are trying to reach those state quarterfinals for the third consecutive season, and the program has reached the postseason in eight of nine years the school has been open.
Needless to say, they’re hoping to use those memories to their advantage.
“We’ve been there before, and we know what it’s like to lose in [the playoffs],” Mello said. “It’s not fun, and we want to use that memory to motivate us.”
Of course, there’s a couple of other losses that also motivate Coal Ridge.
For example, the Titans were the two-time defending 3A/2A Western Slope League champions coming into this season before their May 5 game at Vail Mountain, where the Gore Rangers prevailed 2-1 after falling behind 1-0 early in the game. Two of their other losses — Battle Mountain and Kent Denver — came against quality, postseason-bound opponents. But for the Titans, they say their home loss to Glenwood Springs (4-11-0) still stings a little.
That, along with the memories of playoff losses in the past, are a driving force for the Titans this year.
“We can’t expect to go out there and just dominate a team like some teams out there do,” senior defender and midfielder Katie Barner said. “We expect that every game is going to be a fight until the finish.”
And fight the Titans have.
Unlike years past when Coal Ridge has had a go-to scorer in their lineup, their scoring output this season has spread significantly. This season, 10 of Coal Ridge’s 13 players — including goalkeeper Brooke Esgar — have scored goals this season, with 14 of the Titans’ 59 goals coming from junior forward Jenny Call. The next closest players are Mello, freshman Sam Dunn and senior Allondra Murillo, who each have eight.
Last season, 53 of the Titans’ 86 goals came from seniors Paige Ryan (30), Amanda Wenzel (13) and Aileen Galaviz-Vega (10). A total of 44 of the Titans’ 83 goals in 2013 came from Ryan (21) and Kelsey Fauser (23).
Coal Ridge will open the state playoffs against a Sterling team that has one primary scorer in sophomore striker Jaycie Dillenberg (25 goals), who has been marked heavily since scoring seven goals in an 11-2 win against Gering, Nebraska, on March 19. She also had a pair of four-goal games against Fort Morgan on April 4 and 6.
Coal Ridge hopes the teamwork aspect that got it this far continues to work while creating another lasting memory.
“We don’t want to let each other down,” senior Mariela Martinez said. “We all play for each other.”
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In an eerily quiet Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium, the masked Glenwood Springs Demons hosted the Basalt Longhorns Tuesday to kick off the Covid-shortened 2021 high school basketball season.