Titans jump on Spartans early, roll to 3-0 win
With one non-conference tune-up left for the Coal Ridge boys soccer team, the undefeated Titans took care of business once again Saturday against the visiting Salida Spartans, rolling to a 3-0 win behind an opening-minute goal from senior captain Luis Galaviz and two second-half strikes from junior Josh Fulk.
Sitting at a perfect 5-0 coming into the matchup with the Spartans, it looked like the Titans would easily pick up win number six to start the year as Galaviz scored quickly off of an assist from Ezequiel Vasquez. The goal seemed to stun the Spartans, which in turn caused Coal Ridge to loosen up and play hesitant, conservative soccer. Following the opening goal from Galaviz, the two teams battled to a draw in the first half with most of the action taking place at midfield as both teams traded possessions.
Coal Ridge junior Marcus Amaya forced some action midway through the first half as he was able to work his way into the box on a great run down the middle before the Spartans’ goalkeeper came up with a flurry of big saves to keep the game at 1-0.
Just a few minutes later, Coal Ridge junior Kade Frees made a great run down the left wing, putting tons of pressure on the Salida back line. Frees fired a shot on goal that deflected off the Spartan keeper and floated just high of Fulk’s leaping header attempt, keeping the score at 1-0 late in the first half.
A large reason the Titans weren’t able to capitalize and stretch the lead in the first half was because of the ball-watching the team seemed to be doing near midfield following the first goal, which seemed to stall the offense. Head Coach Michael Mikalakis made sure to point that out at the half, and from the there the Titans were able to get to their style of offense in the second half, resulting in Fulk’s fantastic finishes inside the box.
“We were very hesitant after that initial goal,” Mikalakis said. “Once we began getting into the correct spacing on the field, our offense started to really click … Josh is a natural striker. He’s able to get into great positioning where his teammates are able to get him the assists, which allows Josh to put it on net to capitalize on the opportunities we have as a team.”
Sitting at 6-0 on the season, everything has seemingly gone right for the Titans, who finished as one of four teams in the Final Four of the state playoffs last season. Now, the New Castle team is looking to go even further this year, and that all starts with a solid performance in league play, which starts next week with a matchup at Caprock Academy in Grand Junction next Saturday.
“We are really coming together and playing team soccer, which allows all of our talent to be utilized effectively on the pitch,” Mikalakis said. “We traditionally have a very talented and strong league, so as a team we are excited to begin league play because we improve each game — win or lose — by playing some of the top teams in the state that reside in our league. One thing that we try to focus on is the idea of one game at a time. Win or lose we will take away what is needed to grow as a team for the long run.”
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