Blazer soccer fourth at state; Bid for second consecutive trip to state title match comes up short
GREEN RIVER – Torrington coach Gabe Bartlett knew coming into the year, if Torrington got to state, they were going to make teams nervous.
“The word on the streets when we got to state was, there was no way in heck Torrington was going to beat Green River,” Bartlett said.
The Blazers quickly proved the doubters wrong by knocking off Green River 2-1 in the opening round of the 3A State Soccer Championships on the Wolves’ home field.
“Green River came in, if you want to say it, overconfident, and that changed real quick because we scored real quick,” Bartlett said. “They knew they were in a dogfight from then on out.”
Sophomore Elijah Hatch scored both goals in the win.
The first was a header courtesy of an assist from Kaiden Riggs. The second and game-winning goal came on an assist from Anthony Arnusch.
“It was just Anthony Arnusch making a play,” Bartlett said. “He made a great pass, and we got a nice, easy shot.”
The win advanced Torrington to the semifinal round against East Conference foe Douglas.
The teams split during the regular season, winning on their respective home fields, and the Blazers fell behind 2-0 by halftime.
“Their first goal was a mistake by our goalkeeper,” Bartlett said. “The second was a legit goal.”
Arnusch cut the deficit in half with Torrington’s only goal of the match early in the second half.
From there, Torrington struggled to get another shot.
“We threw everybody up, probably the last 10, 15 minutes of the game, and we just couldn’t get one to go,” Bartlett said.
The loss dropped the Blazers to the third-place match on Saturday.
“We were tired,” Bartlett said of the team going into the match with Cody.
To make matters worse, Hatch picked up a red card against Douglas and wasn’t eligible to play against Cody.
It left Torrington with only 14 players.
“We played defense pretty much the whole game,” Bartlett said. “Cody is right there with Green River as the best two teams in the West. They have two 6-7, 6-8 center backs, and they have midfielder who is a man among boys.”
To top it off, Juan Carlos Stevens tweaked his hamstring again and was at probably 60%, according to Bartlett.
The end result was a 1-0 loss.
“Missing Hatch, we moved Greysen up and played three back,” Bartlett said. “They played hard. I couldn’t be more proud of how hard they played. We kept asking for more, and they kept giving it to us until they were just done.”
Torrington finished the season the season with an 8-7 record, and the loss marks the end of the careers of two Blazers – Stevens and William Black.
“Taking a 1-0 loss, I was actually pretty happy about it. The kids were exhausted,” Bartlett said. “We had asked so much of them of the course of the year, they just didn’t have anything left. Kaiden Riggs was a stud and saved our bacon time and time again.”
With the youth of the team and the success the team had this year, optimism is about future success.
“We have great kids coming up. We also have kids who chose not to play this year for various reasons talking about coming back out,” Bartlett said. “I think people discredit the kind of program we have here and how good it is no matter who is in it. We are going to win a lot of soccer games, and we are going to compete at state.”