Titans edge Vail Mountain
PEACH VALLEY – Battling gusty wind and a physical Vail Mountain School team, Coal Ridge had its work cut out for it on Tuesday. In the end, stingy defense and a shot lofted perfectly into the wind by sophomore Kelly Romero that found net fueled the Titans to a 1-0 win.”I just shot it and hoped for the best,” said Romero, whose high-arcing, long-range strike cleared the reach of the Vail keeper slowly dropping into goal just over five minutes into the second half.Audrey Asplund assisted, finding Romero with a short pass off an indirect kick from the right corner.
“I was yelling for it,” Coal Ridge coach Brian Blair said. “She got it right into that wind socket. It just kept floating and floating.”With a taut defense giving up little, that was precisely the break the Titans needed.”It’s just their speed and they work together,” Blair said of his team’s defensive strengths. “When one girl gets beat, another steps up. They don’t leave anyone out to dry.”Vail Mountain coach Rob Bandoni, whose team dropped to 1-2, expressed the Gore Rangers’ frustration.
“We didn’t create a whole lot of quality opportunities on offense,” he said. “We did a good job of creating possession in the middle third of the field, but we didn’t really put together any threatening attacks.”With less than two minutes left in the game, Vail Mountain nearly knotted the game when Lucy Sackbauer got a touch on a long-range blast from Karlie Moore for a shot-on-goal. Coal Ridge goalkeeper Vanessa Hinojos knocked the ball down, but net-ward momentum rolled it toward the net behind her. The junior alertly turned and pounced on the ball, diffusing the Gore Rangers’ biggest threat of the day.With a number of close calls, the Titans could have won by a wider margin. In the 73rd minute, Jill Refior hit crossbar with a lofted shot that closely resembled Romero’s goal.”It was the same thing,” Blair said. “(Jill) got it up there and let it die in the wind.”
Coal Ridge, now 3-1 overall and 3-0 in Class 3A Western Slope League play, put seven shots on goal and had two breakaways in the second half, keeping pressure on to the end.The young Titans, carrying a roster with just two juniors and loaded with freshmen and sophomores, mostly kept their cool against Vail’s physical defense. Coal Ridge didn’t get all the calls it hoped for, Romero admitted. “It was tough with the refs and everything, but you’ve got to keep playing,” she said. “That’s the thing with a young team. Sometimes you have to push them as upperclassmen.”The Titans return to the pitch at Basalt on April 3.
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