“They were absolutely psyched on the win”
by Than Acuff
It’s been an atypical start for the Crested Butte Titans soccer team this year, dropping their first three games of the season, but they rallied to secure their first league win, taking down the Alamosa Mean Moose on Saturday, September 5, 1-0.
The last week got off to a rough start as a depleted Titans team faced perennial 3A standout program Salida on Tuesday, September 1. While the two teams matched up fairly well in their overall pace of the game, Salida’s possession and their star striker proved troublesome for Crested Butte.
Salida built a 2-0 lead before the Titans got their feet underneath them as new varsity players were called into action to fill holes in the line-up. The Titans opened the second half strong, creating three great chances on net but failing to convert, and Salida eventually scored its third goal of the game to put the game out of reach for good.
Following a non-league matchup against the Montrose JV team on Wednesday, the Titans lined up against Alamosa for their second league game of the season. Alamosa has always given the Titans trouble over the past several years and while they often lack size and any semblance of a cohesive attack, they are notorious for packing players in front of their net, often frustrating the Crested Butte attack.
The same was true on Saturday as the Mean Moose were noticeably smaller than the Titans but no less determined in their defensive third. Crested Butte stalled numerous times in their attempt to build an attack as the Alamosa defenders closed down fast and hard on passes and shots to shut down the Titans once they entered the attacking third of the field.
“They had incredible close-down abilities and that high pressure threw off our offense quite a bit,” says coach Ben Davis. “I think we might have underestimated them a little bit.”
Meanwhile, the Alamosa counter-attack consisted of playing the long ball up top, hoping for their lone striker to create havoc and capitalize on defensive miscues. The Titans defense has struggled in their team and individual play thus far this year and continued to do so in the opening 20 minutes, as long passes from Alamosa continued to skip off the wet surface and past the Titans’ back four, providing a handful of opportunities for the Mean Moose.
Fortunately, as the game wore on, the Titans adjusted. Woody Martineau stepped up to handcuff the Alamosa striker and Thomas Taaca dropped deeper to cut off any and all through-balls.
“In the beginning we were a little disorganized but once they figured out Alamosa’s attack, they adjusted to that,” says Davis. “Woody was on their number 9, Thomas dropped a little and Dylan and Nate pretty much closed down the outside.”
Meanwhile, the Titans started finding opportunities from outside the penalty area, firing shots from 20 to 25 yards in an attempt to break through the Alamosa wall. The adjustment ultimately paid off as Patrick Seifert took a pass from Noah Dumas and drilled a shot into the upper corner for a 1-0 Titans lead 25 minutes into the first half.
“We’ve been coaching them different options to penetrate the 18 and the six and it was nice to see them make their own adjustment to take advantage of the space they had around 20 to 25 yards out,” says Davis.
The Titans remained in control for the remainder of the game and, apart from a couple random threats by Alamosa, sealed up tight on defense to close out the 1-0 win.
“They were absolutely psyched on the win,” says Davis. “Everyone, including the coaches, sees the potential this team has and for the first time they played collectively as a team. There’s still work to be done both offensively and defensively.”
The Titans return to workouts for the entire week before they host Cortez on Saturday, September 12.
“The first three weeks were absolute chaos and it was tough to get any real work in,” says Davis. “This week will be nice—they get two days rest and then we will have four days of practice and we can really get into fine-tuning and working with the team as a whole.”
The Cortez game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. kick-off at Rainbow. The Titans will then hit the road on Tuesday, September 15 to take on the Ridgway Demons.