Fast-paced Titans outrun Bears |

Fast-paced Titans outrun Bears

Jon Mitchell
Rifle High School's Nicole Manera (2) fights for possession of the soccer ball with Coal Ridge's Joanna Hazelbrush during the first half of a game played at Rifle High School on Tuesday afternoon. The Titans went on to beat the Bears
Jon Mitchell / Post Independent |

RIFLE — The girls soccer team at Rifle High School is quickly showing how it has improved from previous seasons. The Coal Ridge Titans, however, quickly showed the Bears how far they have to go.

Allondra Murillo scored a goal and notched what turned out to be a crucial assist for the Titans, who held on for a 3-0 victory in a Class 3A/2A Western Slope League match on Tuesday afternoon.

“When we have the opportunity to get out and run a little bit, it usually results in something good for us,” Coal Ridge coach Micah Herron said. “We were sloppy in some spots, but we got the win and we were able to take advantage of some chances we were given.”

The Titans (3-2-0 overall, 2-0-0 in league play) made plenty of chances for themselves, taking 28 total shots on goal while controlling possession for most of the game. Three different Coal Ridge players — Murillo, Santana Martinez and Jenny Call were able to get the ball past freshman goalkeeper Karly Ruiz, who in just her second time playing goalie racked up 25 saves.

“We were sloppy in some spots, but we got the win and were able to take advantage of some chances we were given.”Micah HerronCoal Ridge High girls soccer coach

The final score on Tuesday was a stark contrast to the kind of results Rifle was used to last season, when the Bears were in the midst of a 24-game losing streak over the course of three years. This year, instead of falling behind by an insurmountable margin at the very beginning, Rifle (1-4-0, 0-3-0) was within striking distance for much of the game against a program that has been to Class 3A’s quarterfinals for the past two seasons.

“Our whole key to turning things around this year is that we’re being aggressive,” Rifle coach Rich carter said. “We’re going for that ball, we’re bodying up on people. We didn’t have that in the past, and it’s making a big difference this season.”

Not to be outdone, Shelby Koether finished with 12 saves in goal for the Titans, tallying 10 of those 12 saves in the second half to preserve the shutout. Murillo, however, was the one who put the Titans up for good early on.

Murillo’s 10th-minute goal on a header shot into the right side of the net in a crowd gave the Titans a 1-0 lead. Twenty minutes later, however, Rifle nearly tied the game when the Bears’ Cheyanne Whaley, who had an open-net shot opportunity when Esgar was pulled to the side of the box, hit her shot high and wide of the goal.

That’s where the experienced Titans got their running game going, rushing down the field and scoring within 30 seconds of Whaley’s shot when Murillo found Martinez in front of the net in transition for a 2-0 Coal Ridge lead.

“The goalie [Ruiz] was coming out at me, so at that point I just tapped it over toward the center where it was more open and the goalie couldn’t get to it,” Murillo said. “[Martinez] was there for us.”

Call answered the proverbial call to give the Titans their final goal of the game. After Rifle was whistled for a penalty just four years in front of the 18-yard goal-box marker, Call rushed up and drove the direct-kick shot past Peleaz for a 3-0 lead in the 41st minute before the Bears could set up any kind of defensive wall.

“Sometimes when there’s defensive lapses, you have to take advantage of them,” Herron said.

Coal Ridge will play again on Thursday when the Titans host the Rangely Panthers. Rifle is off until April 7 when the Bears host Aspen.

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