Coal Ridge soccer players pumped to be in the postseason |

Coal Ridge soccer players pumped to be in the postseason

Joelle MilholmGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

Titans playoff bound for team’s first timeBy Joelle MilholmGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado – When the season is on the line, veterans are expected to step up and carry their teams. On Tuesday, that’s exactly what Vanessa Hinojos did.The Coal Ridge senior made 10 saves, including one on a penalty kick and the other on a one-on-one breakaway in the closing minutes to help the Titans soccer team hold on to a 2-0 victory over Roaring Fork. The win makes Coal Ridge the runner-up in the Class 3A Western Slope League and owner of the second and final playoff spot in the WSL.The playoff berth is the first in the three-year history of the team and means the world to the squad, especially the Titans’ two seniors – Hinojos and midfielder Allyssa Little.”It is unbelievable just to know that our senior year, me and Allyssa get to make it all the way. I am speechless,” Hinojos said. “I am still pumped. I have adrenaline going in me right now.”Had Coal Ridge (6-2-2 WSL, 8-4-2 overall) lost, Aspen (6-3-1 WSL, 8-4-1 overall) would have taken the No. 2 spot. The Titans had been battling with the Skiers to join WSL Champion Basalt in the postseason. They beat the Skiers, 3-2, on April 22, then beat Rangely, 1-0, on Thursday, then with the win over Roaring Fork ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak.”Ever since our second Basalt game (on April 19 when the Titans lost, 6-0) we have taken every game with the mentality needed to get to here,” said Coal Ridge head coach Brian Blair. “We were kinda behind in the standings and we needed to make some things happen and every game we came with the right focus to get the win. When you have to play every game like it is sudden death that can wear on you. To do it that many times and always come out, I am very impressed by them.”

The Titans scored their first goal 17 minutes into the game when Emily Johnson and Chelsie Ryan passed the ball back and forth down the middle of the field. With a leading pass from Johnson, Ryan turned on the jets and took the ball in for a rolling shot to the left corner. With Coal Ridge up, 1-0, the Rams tried to even the score 15 minutes later when Hanna Burleigh got a penalty kick. Burleigh got a good foot on the ball, but Hinojos leaped to her right and grabbed it as the Titans carried a 1-0 lead into halftime.Both teams had their chances in the second half, but not many found the back of the net. From shots clinging off the crossbar, to good defense to top-notch goalkeeping, the score stayed at 1-0 through 30 minutes in the second half. Roaring Fork head coach Brad Zeigel even took out his goalie Joey Clingan, who had made 13 saves, and put her in as a forward to try and generate more offense. It worked as the Rams got a few more opportunities, but it couldn’t get a goal despite a valiant effort from the Rams.”Coal Ridge is always good to play because they make us play better,” Zeigel said. “It is an interesting new rivalry with them being a new school.”

In the 33rd minute, Erica Ruiz fired in a high looping shot into the goal to give Coal Ridge a two-goal cushion. It didn’t stop the Rams from trying to get a goal, however, as Kathy Vega found herself with a breakaway in injury time. Free from defenders, she charged the net, but Hinojos charged right back at her. Right as Vega fired her shot, Hinojos went to the ground, blocking and then grabbing the ball to close out the game.”If you have to make to saves in the game, you can’t make two better than the ones she made,” Blair said of Hinojos. “Both of those were goal savers and there is no other way to put it.”The loss ended Roaring Fork’s season with a 2-8 WSL record and 4-10 overall mark for the young squad. At halftime, the Rams honored their group of seniors, which included captains Ana Casas, Krispin Jewkes and Nikki Smeins – whose stellar defense deterred many Coal Ridge attacks.Coal Ridge will now host the Metro League’s No. 5 team in regionals to be played Friday or Saturday. According to RockyPreps, that team would be Denver Christian, but the official Colorado High School Activities Association bracket will be released Thursday.In the eyes of the Titans, this is only the beginning of their journey.”We have made it this whole way, I am so psyched,” Hinojos said. “We are on a roll, we are going to take it.”

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