Titans end season on a tough loss
PEACH VALLEY – Max Peterson looked up at the clock as it wound down on his final high school game and it sank in. This was it. It was all about to end for the senior, one of four on Coal Ridge’s boys soccer team.”You look up and see 15 minutes left on the clock and it hits you – high school soccer is over,” he said. Unfortunately for Peterson and fellow seniors Skyler James, Fernando Alvarado and Milton Arroyo, the Titans didn’t finish off the 2007 season as winners. Instead, playoff-bound Vail Mountain twice rallied from one-goal deficits to escape Peach Valley with a 3-2 win on Thursday.”It’s frustrating,” Peterson added, “to go out like that. But they were the top team in league and we only lost by one point.”Actually, at 10-1-1, Vail Mountain is the Class 3A Western Slope League’s second-place team, and they showed why in Thursday’s regular-season finale. Carder Lamb, who finished with two goals, said his Gore Rangers had plenty to play for, even with a playoff spot secured.”It seemed like we wouldn’t have much on the line but this game was huge in terms of seeding,” he said. “If we’re in the top eight we’d get home field advantage, and we play much better on our home field. We really wanted to win this. It was scary, but we pulled it off.”Lamb responded to a first-half goal by Coal Ridge’s Eric Schmitz – which came courtesy of a J.J. Riddile assist 16 minutes – by heading home a corner kick by teammate Chris Woods with 8:35 left in the half.The 1-all score stood until the Titans again took the lead on their home pitch, this time on a goal by Ryan Zelenka less than nine minutes into the second half. Zelenka started the whole sequence by rolling a well-placed cross to Juan Rodriquez, whose point blank shot hit the post. Zelenka charged the rebound and knocked home the go-ahead goal.The Gore Rangers were quick to square the contest. With 22:40 to go, Lamb ripped off a laser of a shot that found net from maybe 30 yards out.Ten minutes later, an opportunistic goal by Reed O’Brien put Vail Mountain up for the first time – and for good. From midfield, Lamb headed a goal kick forward to streaking teammate Tony Ryerson. Ryerson got a good look and ripped off a point-blank shot that James, the Titans’ goalkeeper, stopped but couldn’t secure. O’Brien pounced on the loose ball for the winning goal. Despite a number of last-ditch surges as the clock ran down, Coal Ridge could not muster the equalizer. Still, coach Brian Blair and the Titans had to settle for another in a series of tough losses to end the year 4-8 in the 3A WSL and 5-10 overall.”It’s been a long year,” the first-year boys soccer coach said. “I can’t say it’s all been peaches and cream. There have been moments where we’ve had adversity within the team, with injuries, all kinds of things made the season a long one, but I wanted them to know I’m not upset with them. I think we did have fun. We’d work hard and fought through a lot. It was hard having our last game.”While it’s the end of the road for Coal Ridge, Vail Mountain readies for the postseason. CHSAA will dole out seeds over the weekend and the Gore Rangers will return to the field for a first-round matchup early next week.
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