Second place in league
The Crested Butte Titans soccer team’s winning streak came to a screeching halt when they lost to the Ridgway Demons 2-0 on Thursday, October 9.
After winning their last seven games in a row, the Titans were in second place and looking to hand the undefeated Demons their first loss of the season and take over first place for the year.
Yet, the Demons defense proved nearly impenetrable, holding the typically explosive Titans offense in check the entire game.
Crested Butte’s defense was almost as effective with sophomores Kyle Hecker and Sky Egelhoff marked up against the Demons strikers and senior Jeremy Clayton cutting off through-balls at the sweeper position.
With four Demon defenders marked up on the Titans’ two strikers all game long, the game came down to the midfielders. While sophomore Henry Linehan and junior Ricky Sandoval proved effective on the outsides, the central midfielders had trouble directing traffic.
Ridgway’s central midfielders were unfettered in their hustle, battling for every loose ball and forcing the Titans into numerous double team situations.
The effort paid off as the Titans gave the ball up on numerous occasions before they could establish possession and find slots on offense.
The Demons scored in the 12th minute of the first half when a ball dropped to the ground inside the Titans’ penalty area and a Ridgway player stepped through three Titans to poke the ball past sophomore keeper Ben Frame.
The Titans regrouped temporarily to create opportunities but the Demons’ defense smothered numerous shots in close.
Linehan found a seam wide and carried the ball to the end line, crossing a beautiful chip pass to the far post.
As everyone froze inside the 18-yard bow, Sandoval came crashing through for the leaping header but the effort banged off the crossbar leaving the Titans scoreless at the half.
Ridgway netted its second goal of the game in the second half linking passes down the middle of the field for an unchallenged shot on goal to take a 2-0 lead.
The Titans struck the crossbar a second time when junior Connor McGuire stepped up on a loose ball to fire midway through the second half.
The Demons retreated into a stout defensive stance the remainder of the game to preserve their 2-0 win and remain undefeated.
The loss leaves the Titans with a second-place finish for the year in the league with a record of 8-2, 11-3 overall.
The team’s destiny is now in the hands of the 3A state seeding committee as they crunch numbers to determine the 32 placements for the state tournament.
The Titans return from October break to prepare to hit the road for the first round of state tournament play. Depending on their ranking, the Titans play on either Tuesday, October 21 or Wednesday, October 22.