Titans advance in 3A playoffs
PEACH VALLEY — Coal Ridge High School’s boys soccer team showed on Saturday afternoon that it learned a thing or two from Sheridan’s first-round Class 3A state playoff victory over Manitou Springs on Friday.
The sixth-seeded Titans took advantage of that, positioning themselves accordingly and jumping in front of the Rams early on their way to a 6-0, second-round victory at The Pasture.
“We looked at where they were, and we talked to the kids we needed to talk to in order to know where we needed to mark up,” Coal Ridge coach Mike Mikalakis said. “We made sure we got balls out of the air and didn’t let anything bounce so they couldn’t get a breakaway opportunity.
“But above all, we needed to play for possession,” the coach continued. “If we played possession, we figured they’d wait for us to make a mistake. And for 85 percent of the time, we didn’t make mistakes.”
The Titans (14-2-1 overall) probably held possession of the ball for 85 percent of the match. That made a huge difference for Coal Ridge, which, in its first- and second-round victories, have built a 48-1 margin of shot attempts against its opponents. And that margin has helped set the Titans up for a quarterfinal-round matchup against The Classical Academy, a 3-0 winner over Denver Christian in another second-round contest on Saturday. The match is slated for Friday, with a start time to be determined later this week.
Edgar Enriquez scored four goals to bump his season total for goals scored to 36. He also had an assist to Enrique Bucio — who scored a pair of goals and added a pair of assists — to go with a pair of assists from junior midfielder Charles Apostolik.
“When we watched them, they would put together a quick offense and then buckle down on defense when they got the lead,” said Apostolik, whose team watched Sheridan’s 2-1 first-round, overtime victory following the Titans’ first-round win over Alexander Dawson. “So it was very important for us to get that early lead, and our passing was great, so that helped as well.”
Coal Ridge was on the attack from the onset but didn’t get on the scoreboard until Bucio’s goal from the right side of the goal box in the 25th minute. Four minutes later, Enriquez zig-zagged past three Sheridan defenders and punched he ball into the net to put the Titans up 2-0.
Apostolik set Enriquez up for his next shot with a drop pass to the Coal Ridge junior on the left side of the goal box just five minutes after his previous goal.
And with just a minute remaining in the first half, midfielder Raymundo Bencomo picked off a Sheridan pass in Coal Ridge territory and passed up to Bucio, whose crossing pass found Enriquez streaking toward the goal for the second of his four scores and a 4-0 halftime cushion for Coal Ridge.
“I think we’re a good team and an offensive team with a very, very strong defense,” Mikalakis said. “And when those two things come together, we make those runs and we finish those attacks.”
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The Longhorns track and field prowess was most evident with their runners, winning multiple events and showing they are to be a factor for podiums, if not state championships, later this month at the state meet in Lakewood.