Coal Ridge mauls Bayfield 4-0
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY, Colorado ” A drill Coal Ridge’s girls soccer team calls “chaos” came in handy on Wednesday.
Surrounded by bodies and with the ball bouncing around in front of the opponent’s net, Titan freshman Alicia Cokley somehow found a moment of clarity to get a shot off.
The shot, which found its mark and gave Coal Ridge a 1-0 lead over Bayfield in Wednesday’s Class 3A first-round playoff game, opened the floodgates on the visiting Wolverines.
Cokley scored again less than two minutes later and the Titans kept applying pressure en route to a 4-0 win ” Coal Ridge’s first postseason soccer victory ever.
Cokley’s icebreaker, which came in the 35th minute and shook Coal Ridge free of its early-game jitters, reminded her of that drill called “chaos” the Titans so frequently run in practice.
“The first one, it was kind of crazy in there,” Cokley said. “Ashlie (Bowles) got it over to me and I just put it in.”
It was precisely the situation “chaos” is meant to simulate, Coal Ridge coach Brian Blair said.
“It’s just a drill where we cross the ball in and try to get three-on-three in the box,” he explained. “As soon as that ball goes out, another shot goes in. Then another goes in as soon as the other ball goes out. So the six people in the box, plus the goalkeeper, are just constantly fighting and flying at balls that aren’t perfect. They’re just trying to get a touch on it.”
The drill’s aim certainly wasn’t lost on Cokley, who scored her second goal amid a similar frenzy. Both her strikes were assisted by Bowles and both were much-needed.
The Titans had been dominating the possession battle. They just hadn’t finished off a threat. Finally snapping the drought seemed to calm the team’s nerves.
“You know, somebody had to step up and make a play that said, ‘OK, we can score,’ and then let everybody else calm down,” Blair said. “For Alicia to go in there and do that not once, but twice, was huge.”
The momentum carried into the second half, as Coal Ridge peppered Bayfield keeper Jaylie Ross with shots. Some sailed high and some flew wide, but two found their mark.
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Erica Ruiz dumped a short pass off to teammate Kourtney Mitchell. With space to work with and from just inside the 18-yard box, Mitchell lasered a straight-on shot to the back of the net to give the Titans a 3-0 lead.
Jill Refior added a goal in the 59th minute, one that emerged from the aftermath of a corner kick sent in by Audrey Asplund.
And on to Class 3A’s Sweet 16 the 15-0-1 Titans went. Coal Ridge, seeded seventh in the 32-team state playoffs, will host Denver Christian on Saturday.
In facing the No. 10 Crusaders, the Titans will have a second crack at the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in 2008.
But that was the Titans’ first-ever postseason showing. They’ve learned a thing or two since then.
“Last year, I don’t think we were as confident as we are this year,” said Ruiz, a senior. “We have more to play for. Last year, we had two seniors. This year, we have six. … We’re older, more mature.”
While Coal Ridge moved on, Bayfield saw its most successful season in recent history come to an end. The Wolverines went 6-2-3 and made their first postseason appearance in some time.
“Every year we get a little bit better,” coach Jen Zelinski said. “It’s tough in a small town, with a small school. There’s not a club team or anything these girls can play on. These girls play different sports all year long. … It’s a big accomplishment for us to be here. We were excited to be here.”
But, Zelinski said, her Wolverines surely gleaned plenty from the postseason showing.
“I think it’s already sunk in,” she said. “When we got here it was kind of ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve never seen a team this physical.’ … It’s important for them to see how much better some of these other places are, so when I’m in there playing with them, pushing them as hard as I can, they understand why.”
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