Enrique combo connects for Titans
The two stars of the Coal Ridge High School boys soccer team share the ball as well as a name.
Midfielder Enrique Bucio has racked up 22 assists this season, the best in the state at all levels. Many of those have gone to star forward Edgar Enrique, whose goal-scoring ability has led to many awards.
Saturday at Canyon View Park, the Enrique-to-Enrique connection hooked up twice, giving the Titans a 2-1 nonleague win in overtime against Grand Junction.
Bucio set up Enrique less than two minutes into the game. After that, fourth-ranked Coal Ridge watched the Tigers play keepaway.
Grand Junction (5-9) passed to all areas of the field and dominated possession from roughly 15 minutes into the game until overtime. At one point, forwards Josh Murdock and Marcel Mavangulu went nearly 10 minutes without touching the ball.
About 10 minutes into the second half, Mavangulu bolted through the Titan defense and received a high-arcing lob pass from Kevin Villar. Mavangulu took one step toward the goal and beat Coal Ridge’s goalie one-on-one.
For the remainder of the half, the Tigers tried to create an opportunity by wearing down Coal Ridge (10-2-1).
“I told the guys at halftime that we don’t necessarily need to be direct in our attack,” Grand Junction Stephen Latta said. “We kept taking the ball up the field and running it right at them. We weren’t really using Marcel and Josh in establishing the attack. We kept trying to put long balls behind (Coal Ridge) in the first half, and obviously those guys have some great athleticism, and that just wasn’t working.
“I’ll be honest with you, sometimes it’s like holding a pit bull back. We focused on keeping possession, and our goal was really based off our possession and our ability to move the ball and create space.”
The Tigers maintained possession to the final whistle as Coal Ridge pressured to steal the ball. Grand Junction even had a late counterattack opportunity when they caught the Titans’ midfield and defenders on an extremely high line, but the attack was foiled by a last-ditch tackle.
It wasn’t until overtime that Coal Ridge was able to create a chance after swiping a pass in the midfield. Bucio set up Enrique in the center of the penalty box, and Enrique cut to the left to create space before firing a shot back to the center of the net. The ball was just out of goalie Michael Hansen’s reach.
The Titans had six shots on net, compared to five for the Tigers. Coal Ridge coach Michael Mikalakis said his team was fatigued from playing four games in a week, and Grand Junction’s style of play didn’t help them recover.
“We don’t really play teams in our league that possess like that,” Mikalakis said. “We also don’t typically see a defense with that size. We were already exhausted, and to their credit they’re a strong group with a lot of skill on the ball.
“That defensive line was solid, and it was hard for us to match up. It’s brand new for us, and we had to adjust to it.”
“Edgar is a very skilled soccer player, and I think that showed when he was able to get into the right line at the right time and beat a team that had been doing a good job containing him.”