Remember the Titans
Post Independent Staff
They maybe be young.
They maybe inexperienced.
No one may have given them a chance, but the Coal Ridge Titans are making their first-ever season one to remember.
The young girls soccer team, made up of 16 freshmen and four sophomores, have compiled a 4-2-2 Class 3A Western Slope League record with four league games remaining in the season. The mark lands Coal Ridge in fourth place, putting them in the playoff hunt, where the top three teams go to regionals.
The Titans started their inaugural season on a high note, beating Olathe 4-1 on March 21. They then lost to Roaring Fork 4-0 on March 23, but have been playing equal to their older opponents ever since.
They beat Vail Mountain, a team with a 6-3-1 record, which is sitting in third place. It was a game where head coach Shawn McElroy saw a change in his team.
“All of the sudden you could see the light bulb came on and they started playing really well together,” he said of the March 28 game. “They started talking well. They were passing together and, ever since then, they just seem to be playing better and better every week.”
McElroy was right. Coal Ridge may have lost its next game, but taking a game into overtime before losing 2-1 against second-place Aspen (7-1-0 WSL), was quite an accomplishment.
“I told them, ‘You guys are no longer freshmen. In my mind you are no longer freshmen. You play at the level that you are playing at,'” McElroy recalls telling his team after the game.
Last week, the Titans beat Olathe 2-0 and then tied Roaring Fork 1-1. They will still have to face first-place Basalt (5-0-0 WSL), Rangely, Colorado Rocky Mountain School and Aspen over the next two weeks, but if they can chalk up some wins, they could be looking at regionals.
Coal Ridge has proved it is a force to be reckoned with, with a strong forward attack of Erica Ruiz, who has made four goals on the year, Alishia Boyles, who has netted three goals, and Tracy Pihl, Patricia Jewkes and Nalini Blanco, who have scored two goals each. Coal Ridge consistently puts together scoring chances, and McElroy says making them count is one area his girls still have to work on.
“That’s probably the only part that is still hurting us ” the inexperience in not finishing. That’s all we did last week is finish drill, finish drills, finish drills,” McElroy said after the 1-1 tie against Roaring Fork on Saturday. “We are creating opportunities, we just can’t quite get the ball in the back of the net all the time.”
On defense, the Titans are just as solid and have shut out their opponents three times this year. Goalkeeper Vanessa Hinojos, with the help of back-liners Staci Baker, Courtney Hutton and Alyssa Little, have averaged giving up only 1.33 goals per contest.
After Saturday’s game with Roaring Fork, McElroy couldn’t help but have a smile on his face ” and why shouldn’t he?
His young team is making a name for itself and is building a strong foundation for the new school.
“And we are just going to get better,” McElroy said.
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