Second-half miscues cost Titans in home soccer loss to Longhorns
Things seemed to be going well late in the first half for the Coal Ridge Titans boys soccer team as it took a 2-0 lead at home over the Basalt Longhorns in a pivotal 3A Western Slope League tilt at The Pasture in New Castle.
Momentum quickly shifted in the second half as the Longhorns scored an early second-half goal, and then pounced on two defensive miscues in the second half to storm back for a thrilling 3-2 win over the Titans.
Basalt senior Bear Matthews scored all three second-half goals for the Longhorns, including the eventual game-winner with just 3 minutes, 31 seconds left in the game.
Prior to Matthews’ game-winning goal, the Titans controlled play for much of the game. As they have all year, the Titans raced out to a quick lead as senior Trace Apostolik fired a great throughball to fellow senior Kade Frees on the left wing. Frees raced past a Basalt defender and fired a cross into the box, where junior Ivan Gallardo made a great first touch, corralling the ball and slipping a shot past the Basalt goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead just over three minutes into the game.
Holding a 1-0 lead, the Titans seemed to take their foot off the gas, allowing Basalt to find its footing. Matthews had a few early chances for the Longhorns, but sophomore Cody Connor stood tall in net for the Titans.
Late in the first half, Frees had a chance to make it a 2-0 game. Frees slipped his way into the box and tried a chip shot over the goalkeeper, but the shot ticked off the outside of the left post, keeping it a 1-0 game.
Frees got another chance minutes later and capitalized, firing a great free kick from 25 yards out just under the crossbar through the goalkeeper’s hands into the back of the net, sending the Titans into the half with a 2-0 lead.
Things changed quickly in the second half, as the Longhorns took advantage of a handball on Connor, who punted the ball away but stepped outside the attacking box to do it.
With the handball call giving the Longhorns a free kick from just outside the box, Matthews fired a shot through a gaggle of Titans defenders just inside the far left post, making it a 2-1 game just under seven minutes into the second half.
Basalt nearly tied the game minutes later in the second half, but a great play by sophomore defender Dominic Centeno shut down a Basalt run down the right wing, keeping the Longhorns off the board.
Building off of the momentum created by Centeno’s defensive play, the Titans quickly turned around and nearly stretched the lead to 3-1 as senior Gustavo Archila found himself alone on the doorstep of the goal mouth. Archila fired a high shot, but the Basalt goalkeeper made a spectacular save moving right to left, tipping Archila’s shot over the crossbar, keeping it a 2-1 game.
With under 16 minutes left in the game, Matthews tied it at 2-2, jumping all over a defensive miscue by the Titans that saw them pass the ball back into the middle rather than clearing down the wing. Matthews fired his shot over Connor, just under the crossbar, knotting the game at 2-2.
The two teams battled down the stretch, with both attacks missing opportunities late until Matthews split the Titan defense on a great run down the heart of the defense, firing a chip shot just inside the far left post with 3:31 left in the game, giving the Longhorns a 3-2 lead that they’d hold onto for the win.
Basalt improves to 3-5 (2-0 3A Western Slope League) on the season, while the Titans fall to 4-4-1 (0-1 3A WSL). Coal Ridge hosts Vail Mountain Thursday in New Castle for another 3A Western Slope League matchup at 4 p.m.