PEACH VALLEY – Coal Ridge soccer coach Brian Blair normally doesnt get too excited on the sidelines, but frequent first-half scoring opportunities that failed to add to a 1-0 lead had the coach known as “B” frustrated. “Doesnt anyone in white (the home team Titans) want to get to the ball?” he wondered on the sideline. Thirty minutes into the second half, the Titans finally got that elusive second goal and went on to defeat Telluride, 3-0, in the first round of the state 3A soccer tournament Saturday.
Coal Ridge, 15-1 on the season and seeded 12th in the 3A state tournament, had outshot 21st-seeded Telluride (7-7-1), 24-4 in the first half, yet a last second flurry by the Miners produced three of those attempts, the final try stopped by a diving Tyler Guettler in front of the Titan goal. “One mistake and were tied at half,” Blair said after the Titans finally put Telluride away for the first playoff soccer win in school history. Last season, the Titans lost to Ridgeway, 1-0, in its first state appearance.
Another one-nil loss, two weeks ago to Basalt, derailed an undefeated season and cost Coal Ridge the league title, but the Titans dominated Telluride on a field that was in good shape despite the recent wet weather. Sunny skies and a load of sand that left goalie Guettler feeling confident of his turf had the Titans excited to play their first home playoff game.
Coal Ridge dominated the ball from the opening face-off, and with 24 minutes remaining in the first 40-minute half, Carlos Rodriguez centered a ball from the left corner that Dusty Hibdon rammed off a Miner defender and into the net for the first score.
Shortly afterwards, Guettler fielded an easy roller for his first save of the contest. The Titans continued to be the aggressors and nearly scored with three minutes remaining when Eliel Ruiz fired a rebound shot that was saved by Brendan Kelley, the diving Telluride goalie.
After Guettler turned aside the late threat by the Miners before halftime, he had to field only one shot, a mild one-hopper, in the second half. Coal Ridge continued to have opportunities, but of their first eleven second-half attempts, only a free kick by Dale Bauer and a shot from the left side by Rey Chairez came close until Jorge Hernandez scored on a breakaway pass from Sam Klomhaus with nine minutes remaining. The sophomore midfielder drove in toward the goal, and when Kelley dove at him, chipped it over his head to make the score 2-0 and take the pressure off the Titans. “That (second goal) sealed the deal,” Blair said.
Coal Ridge tacked on a final goal during the stoppage time near the game's end as Eliel Ruiz placed the ball into the far corner of the net following a pass from Carlos Rodriguez.
For the Round of 16, the Titans will travel to Keenesburg (24 miles SE of Greeley, 32 miles NE of Aurora) next Saturday to meet 5th-seeded Weld Central Rebels (13-3), who defeated Alexander Dawson (5-10-1) 5-0.