TCA tops Coal Ridge in Class 3A boys soccer quarterfinals
The Colorado Springs Gazette
COLORADO SPRINGS — It didn’t take long for The Classical Academy to back Coal Ridge into a corner.
Only two minutes in fact.
Behind freshman Titus Grant’s hat trick, The Classical Academy (17-1-0) sent visiting Coal Ridge (14-3-1) on a long journey home, while TCA celebrated a return to the 3A semifinals. The home Titans defeated the visiting Titans, 7-2, on Friday in the quarterfinals.
The last time TCA was in the state semifinals was 2011 when it made a state finals bid. This time, however, TCA returns with a young, high-producing lineup.
“I haven’t had a team where this number of freshmen and sophomores dominate the roster, and really, they are the ones who are producing,” TCA coach Blake Galvin said. “It’s something pretty special.”
In the second minute, TCA’s early forward pressure paid off quickly when Grant followed up with an intercepted Coal Ridge pass at the 18-yard box. He snuck a low shot passed Coal Ridge goalkeeper Isidro Contreras for a 2-0 TCA lead in the 13th minute.
“We were playing quick,” Grant said. “We knew they were coming at us hard, so we had to go at them even harder. After we scored the first goal, we were just pumped.”
The home Titans, however, didn’t take the lead for granted.
Coal Ridge dug deep for a handful of chances and a couple shots on goal over the following 7 minutes. However, TCA proved the game was about quality, not quantity, when it came to scoring opportunities.
In a four-on-four situation, TCA was set up by a deep pass from freshman Jaden Borja. A header from sophomore Robby Jacobs didn’t score but bounced the ball in front of unguarded Grant. The freshman tucked it in for his third goal of the evening and a 3-0 Classical Academy lead in the 22nd minute.
In the 29th minute, Jacobs had his moment after some fancy footwork across two defenders for a shot into the lower right side of Contreras’ net and a 4-0 lead.
Anders Carlson, also a freshman, added to the onslaught with the team’s fifth goal, taking advantage of Coal Ridge miscommunication in the 6-yard box in the 35th minute. Thirty seconds later, Jacobs went for his second of the night, but the shot was parried off the crossbar.
It wasn’t until the 37th minute Coal Ridge was able to answer after junior Charles Apostolik snuck a low shot past TCA goalie Micah Mesward. Coal Ridge’s speed started to break through the home Titans back lineup, but Mesward came up with his biggest save of the first half, preserving TCA’s halftime lead at 5-1.
The familial atmosphere has played a large role in the underclassmen working well as a high-scoring team.
“We know each other very well and how to play together,” Grant said. “We know what to do.”
TCA freshman Jeremy Baldes kicked off the second half with his goal in the 45th minute. Senior John Austin scored on a header for TCA’s seventh goal at minute 51.
With a trip to the semifinals in hand and a state finals berth in sight, The Classical Academy’s success might not be limited to the 2013 postseason.
“It’s one of those things. We’re looking forward to next year and see how these guys mature and grow into the team and into the program,” Galvin said. “But it’s a bunch of 15, 16 and 17-year-old boys, and you just don’t know what you’re going to get. So far, I’ve just been pleased with what they’ve done and what I’ve gotten out of them.”
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The brackets are set for the 12-team 4A girls lacrosse state championships, and the Roaring Fork Rams are dancing as the No. 9 seed.