Positive energy fueling Coal Ridge boys soccer's fast start to the season

(Photo courtesy of Fil Meraz)

Of all the reasons that Coal Ridge boys soccer can point to when looking at early-season success, the top one might also be the most basic.

The team just has a great attitude.

Sure, winning can help. The Titans are off to a 6-0 start and have climbed up to the No. 3 spot in the Class 3A boys soccer rankings, but the feeling is more that the positive attitude has resulted in success rather than the other way around.

"I have been coaching since 2012 and I feel like this has been a season where our kids are competitors," coach Michael Mikalakis said. "They never put their heads and they're always looking to keep moving forward. I feel like that's something you don't always see."

And it's perhaps the best year to see it. The boys soccer season typically beings during the hot months of August and September and ends in November. Cold weather games aren't out of the question, but the Titans have seen more adverse conditions than what they're used to, especially to start the year.

"The first game we played was in Vail in a complete blizzard," Mikalakis said. "The kids were thrown off because they're used to 80 or 90-degree heat but this year is a little bit different. But they're adapting well."

(Photo courtesy of Fil Meraz)

In the first six games of the year, Coal Ridge has scored 28 goals on the season. Senior Jack Price and junior Eddie Salazar tie for the team lead with seven goals. That's also tied for seventh in the state regardless of classification and fourth in all of 3A.

A part of that can very much be attributed to Price and a few of his teammates coming off a basketball season in which in the Titans advanced to the Sweet 16.

"I had that basketball season (ahead of time) where normally it would be me sitting on my couch, not doing anything," Price said. "Us three basketball players came in ready to go and pumped up for the season."

That playoff run also provided a spark not normally there at the beginning of the fall. Having just been through a postseason atmosphere and also seeing their early success, Price feels like Titans can give themselves a mental edge simply from being on the hardwood and beating Buena Vista before falling to Manitou Springs.

"It can propel us a ton because we get that competitive spirit and we don't back down to any opponent," Price said. "That Manitou Springs game, it didn't end up the way that we wanted to but we were fired up and we competed."

Now they're looking at utilizing their skillsets on the soccer field to the best of their advantage. Scoring more than four goals per game, the Titans are able to use their offensive attack to let their defense play more freely.

"It's a team effort," Salazar said. "We get those opportunities and with the defense that we have, it's pretty incredible. It all starts with them."

Coal Ridge has surrendered just six goals all season, half of which came in a 4-3 win over Roaring Fork on March 25.

The Titans hope to continue that trend through the remaining games on their schedule, but they've figured out that everything rides on their competitive spirit and overall positive attitude.

"We need to be competitors," Mikalakis said. "That's our mantra this year. We need to compete every single game. We have the talent and we have the system. If we can keep our mentality the way that it has been going, we can see some really big success."

(Photo courtesy of Fil Meraz)