Titanic season comes to an end
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY, Colorado ” Though his team’s season met a disappointing end on Saturday, Coal Ridge girls soccer coach Brian Blair knows greater things lie on the horizon for his program.
A 2-0 loss to Denver Christian in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs did little to blunt the optimism of a coach who’s seen his team grow by leaps and bounds in 2009.
“I’m far from dissatisfied,” said Blair, whose Titans pieced together a 14-0-1 regular season and won its first 3A Western Slope League title. “It’s been an unbelievable season. We’ve had a great run and we’ve grown so much as a team. They’ve accomplished so much and will continue to grow.”
Coal Ridge’s growth as a program showed on Saturday, as the Titans held their own with one of the Front Range’s elite programs – Denver Christian.
After the Crusaders netted a pair of goals in the game’s first seven minutes, 26 seconds, Coal Ridge played more than 72 minutes of even soccer.
A long corner kick by Alexis Peterson spurred a wild sequence that got Denver Christian on the board in the third minute. As Peterson’s boot sailed toward the 18-yard box, Titans goalkeeper Tori Verdieck reached up and snatched the ball out of the air. To the home crowd’s chagrin, the ball crossed the goal line’s plane in the process.
Coal Ridge never fully recovered from the bizarre opening strike.
“The first goal, I think, was a little demoralizing,” Blair said. “With how fast it happened and the way it happened. If you’re going to give up a goal, you want to give up a goal.”
Denver Christian went on to add a second score less than five minutes later when Peterson found teammate Lisa Singleton with a forward pass and, with a step on the defense, Singleton got a shot past Verdieck, who lost her footing as the speedy Crusader forward approached.
“They just came out and were the aggressor from the beginning,” Coal Ridge senior Kelly Romero said. “They really showed us they were here. It really caught us off guard.”
From there, Denver Christian coach Brad Homan played it safe, moving Singleton from forward to defense with hopes of squeezing the Titan offense.
“After we scored our second goal, I pulled our forward and had her play in the back,” he explained. “I knew that, if we didn’t make a change, they were going to score at least two. So I said, ‘Let’s see if we can beat them 2-1.’ That’s what I was hoping for.”
And that’s pretty much what Homan got.
Coal Ridge had opportunities here and there, but never could convert. Still, the Titans scrapped until the end.
“They kept fighting,” Singleton said. “I was very impressed. They’re a great team.”
Singleton and the 10th-seeded Crusaders (9-5-2) will face second-seeded Alexander Dawson in Class 3A’s round of eight.
Coal Ridge wrapped up its season at 15-1-1 overall, by far the best campaign in the program’s four-year history. Seniors Tracy Pihl, Staci Baker, Mikaela Guettler, Teneisha Hampton, Erica Ruiz and Romero saw their high school careers come to an end.
“We’re going to miss those seniors,” Blair said. “They grew so much as people the last three years. They’re really, really nice girls. We’re going to miss them a lot.”
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Fans, players and coaches on both sides of Stubler Memorial Field seemed to know it would come down just the way it did, regardless of who had the ball at the end.