No. 7 Coal Ridge to face No. 26 Bayfield today |

No. 7 Coal Ridge to face No. 26 Bayfield today

Jeff Caspersen
Post Indeperndent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado ” Coal Ridge’s girls soccer players had an extra spring in their step at Tuesday afternoon’s practice.

Why not? The Titans have finally had a chance to rest the last few days.

Coal Ridge, which hosts Bayfield today at 2 p.m. in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs, endured a grueling close to the regular season.

Grueling, but highly successful.

Playing eight games in the season’s final 14 days, Coal Ridge won all eight.

Off since Thursday, the Titans have finally had a chance to savor the stretch run that netted them their first 3A Western Slope League championship in program history.

“It was tiring,” junior Sydney Wright said. “The last game I was beat. … Over the weekend, I just felt so much better.”

Senior Kelly Romero hopes the taxing stretch, which featured a win over rival Basalt on April 18, helps Coal Ridge as it begins the second season.

“We’re going to need that mental focus,” she said.

The Titans, seeded seventh in the 32-team state playoffs after going 14-0-1 in the regular season, will need that mental edge to make a run in the postseason.

And last year’s first-round playoff exit seems to have sharpened Coal Ridge’s focus.

“Last year was a different mentality,” Titans coach Brian Blair said. “It was just so cool to be there. This year, it’s only cool if we have success, if we work hard and play the best we can. That’s a big difference.”

As it has been the last three games, Coal Ridge will be without its most lethal scoring threat, Chelsie Ryan, going forward. She tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) late in the season.

While a big loss, Ryan’s absence has done little to slow the Titans, who have a roster full of capable finishers. Wright has a team-high 17 goals, while Kourtney Mitchell has 11 and Erica Ruiz and Audrey Asplund each have eight.

“It’s definitely a loss that we don’t have Chelsie,” Romero said. “We still have people that can go in and work just as hard.”

Depth is definitely a blessing as far as the Titans are concerned.

“It’s a nice thing to have,” Blair said. “I think we win most of the second halves we play because of our depth. We’re rotating all the time.”

Blair will trot out that loaded lineup today against a Bayfield squad that pieced together a 6-1-3 regular-season record.

The Wolverines, paced by leading scorer Keenan Moreta, play in 3A’s Region 5 with the likes of Center, Ignacio, Pagosa Springs, Ridgway and Telluride and finished second behind Ridgway. They’re making their first-ever trip to the postseason.

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