Overcoming second-half woes
There’s only one antidote for overcoming a 3-2 loss to a league opponent: Back-to-back wins, including a shutout.
The Crested Butte Titans soccer team faced Salida on Friday, September 12 looking to recover from a devastating 3-2 loss just two days before.
Salida has a long and solid history of high-quality soccer and presents the Titans with an annual non-league challenge.
The Titans took the field determined to return to their open-field style of play, using the outsides to find room for their high-speed strikers to move.
The strategy worked as the hustle of sophomore outside, midfielders Mick Osmundson and Henry Linehan gave the center midfield duo of senior Robbie Holleran and junior Jenner Currier targets to push the ball wide.
The work up the sidelines provided a couple of early opportunities for the Titans, but their first few shots flew high and wide.
The hard work eventually paid off as the Titans worked the ball up the sideline, opening the middle for Holleran.
Holleran slipped into the penalty area unmarked and finished to put the Titans up 1-0 16 minutes into the first half.
Salida’s keeper made a series of outstanding plays to hold the Titans scoreless the remainder of the half as Crested Butte maintained control of the ball in Salida’s half.
Midway through the second half it looked as if Crested Butte would suffer from another lull, as Salida stepped up its pressure on the Titan cage.
Sophomore defenders Sky Egelhoff and Kyle Hecker held off the Salida strikers and senior center back Jeremy Clayton cleared several golden scoring opportunities by Salida.
Yet, just as Salida was pressing, the Titans countered on a defensive stand and found freshman Luis Aguirre breaking through the back four Salida defenders.
Aguirre gained a step and then cut back to find Currier following on the play. Currier took the pass from Aguirre and beat the Salida keeper with a quick shot to put the Titans up 2-0.
The goal helped spurn a turnaround for the Titans as they took ball possession back, leaving Salida to play the long ball for its offensive counter.
As the Titans defense held tight, anchored by sophomore goalie Ben Frame, the Titans midfield continued to look for seams in the Salida defense.
A pass forward to freshman striker Colin Dill forced the Salida defense to shift and Dill found Linehan breaking through wide-open for the pass.
Linehan took the pass and beat the Salida keeper to the far post, giving the Titans a 3-0 lead and the eventual shut-out win.
League opponent Center rolled into Crested Butte the following day on Saturday, September 13. Center provides a challenge each year for the Titans and has an innate ability to take Crested Butte out of their game with intense hustle and solid individual skills.
Center gave the Titans an early scare, converting on a direct kick from 25 yards out to take a 1-0 lead, but that was the end of the offense for Center as Crested Butte relied on short passes and hustle to take control of the game.
The Titans struck the equalizer 17 minutes into the first half as Henry cleared a ball off the far post of the Titans net and proceeded to work quick passes all the way up the sideline to find Wright up top with a perfect through pass.
Wright collected the ball, made two quick touches and slid it past the charging Center keeper to the lower corner.
Nine minutes later, Jack carried the ball for a solo show past a number of Center players to open up his own strike on net for a 2-1 Titans lead.
The Titans struck once again in the 33rd minute of the first half when Currier found the back of the net for a 3-1 Crested Butte lead heading into halftime.
Holleran joined in on the offense, scoring the next two Titans goals on assists from Currier and Jack, and Aguirre finished the game with a beautiful volley off a pass from freshman Ben Reaman to ice the 6-1 Titans win.
The Titans will hit the road this weekend to face Pagosa Springs on Friday, September 19 and Bayfield on Saturday, September 20.