Coal Ridge senior Enrique Bucio is among nation’s leaders in boys soccer assists for second straight season |

Coal Ridge senior Enrique Bucio is among nation’s leaders in boys soccer assists for second straight season

Jon Mitchell
Coal Ridge High senior Enrique Bucio, shown here taking a corner kick before practice on Monday at Coal Ridge High, is among the nation's leaders in assists for the second consecutive year.
Jon Mitchell / Post Independent |


Tonight’s game between Roaring Fork and Coal Ridge in Carbondale will likely determine the 3A Western Slope League title winner.

First, the simple stuff. Roaring Fork will clinch the league championship outright with either a win or a tie in today’s game and a victory Thursday over Colorado Rocky Mountain School.

If Coal Ridge defeats Roaring Fork, however, there could potentially be a three-way tie atop the league standings including Vail Mountain, with each team sitting at 7-1-0 in league play. In this case, according to league-tiebreaker procedures, the league championship could go to the team that allowed the least amount of goals against league opponents. In this case, the Rams have allowed one goal, Coal Ridge four and Vail Mountain five. That means today, Coal Ridge would likely have to win with a shutout by at least four goals to earn the upper hand in the tiebreaker over Roaring Fork and Vail Mountain.

Vail Mountain, by the way, plays its final league game at Basalt today.

If each team ends league play with the same amount of goals allowed, the tiebreaker moves to goals allowed against all varsity opponents. The final tiebreaker after that would be a coin flip to determine the league champion.

— Jon Mitchell

PEACH VALLEY — There hasn’t been much of a difference in the way that Coal Ridge High School’s Enrique Bucio plays this season. There is, however, a difference in the team he plays on.

“We became more of a possession team than we were last year,” the senior midfielder said. “We share the ball a lot more.”

Yet for Bucio, sharing the ball has been a major part of his game for a long time. Through this past weekend’s games, Bucio’s 25 assists are ranked fourth in the nation among soccer players at every level. It’s a heck of an encore to his junior year in 2013, when his 35 assists led the nation, according to statistics posted on

Bucio will have a chance to add to this season’s total when the third-ranked Titans (12-2-0 overall, 6-1-0 Class 3A Western Slope League) play at No. 4 Roaring Fork (11-2-0, 6-0-0) at 6 p.m. today with the league championship on the line. He’s managed to do that in every game this season but one, when the defending league MVP scored both goals for the then top-ranked Titans in a 2-0 victory over then No. 3 Salida on Sept. 13.

Granted, Bucio has scored his share of goals also — his 16 goals this season is tied for 10th among Class 3A players as of the beginning of the week. And Bucio easily could have embraced the role of the team’s primary scorer after the graduation of Edgar Enriquez, who in his senior season in 2013 scored finished second in all of Colorado with 36 goals scored.

Bucio didn’t want that, though, and Coal Ridge coach Michael Mikalakis is more than happy about that.

“That shows just how good of a player Enrique is,” Mikalakis said. “Ever since his sophomore year, he’s had a tremendous squad around him. And in looking at the transition up until now, sure, we have great scorers now. But it’s Enrique who’s putting the ball at their feet. He’s making the people around him better players.”

There’s been plenty of scoring to go around for the Titans. Junior Sergio Valentin has been a benefactor of Bucio’s passing with 14 goals. In all, 14 players have found the net this season, with Luis Galaviz scoring six and Ray Bencomo adding eight. That diversity has come from team chemistry, which has allowed Bucio to find more scoring opportunities for his teammates.

“We know where each other is going to be on the field all the time,” Valentin said. “That allows us to know where everybody is, so [Enrique] can feed me the ball.”

More than that, however, Bucio also does his best to know what each player on the field can do. He does his best to know the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates, using that to determine where to place the ball and who to feed the ball to. Typically, Coal Ridge’s players will play to a certain spot on the field, meaning Bucio — or anyone else, for that matter — will always have an idea of who the ball is going to when it’s passed.

There’s more than that, too.

“I look for holes in the defense,” Bucio said. “Every defense has a hole in it, and you just have to find them.”

So how do you do that?

“I don’t know,” Bucio said, smiling. “It’s just something that I see.”

Surprisingly, Bucio hasn’t seen a lot of attention from college coaches. He’s received interest from some junior colleges and Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, but Adams State University in Alamosa has been his most serious suitor so far.

That’s still a ways away, though. Right now, Bucio and the Titans are focused on their next opponent.

“They’re a very good team,” Bucio said. “It’s going to be a great game.”

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