“I feel like every game we’re exponentially better”
by Than Acuff
There is no question the Titans girls’ high school soccer team has made incredible strides in just its first year of existence. Not only have they notched a few wins, but they also are playing a quality style of soccer beyond their brief experience level.
On Tuesday, April 26 they hosted Montrose in Gunnison for two games, matching up against the Montrose Indians JV and C teams and they arguably played their best soccer to date in the opening 10 minutes against the Montrose JV.
Montrose was noticeably flat and the Titans took immediate advantage of the sleeping Indians from the opening kick off. The Titans linked a series of passes together, slicing through the entire Montrose team to fire off an early shot. Montrose scrambled to clear the ball, but Maddie Lambert stepped up on the clearing pass to drive a shot back into the 18-yard box off a Montrose defender and past the Indian keeper for a 1-0 lead 90 seconds into the game.
The Titans energy and possession continued to dictate the play on the field, netting their second goal eight minutes later. After winning the ball in the midfield, the Titans pushed the attack wide to Ryan Carroll down the right flank. Carroll carried the ball a couple of touches before finding Anabelle Faivre open at the top of the penalty area. Faivre flicked the pass on to Rachel Potoker and Potoker buried her shot in the far corner for a quick 2-0 Titans lead.
“We were connecting more passes, moving off the ball, everything that we’ve been talking about they executed,” says coach Julia Kidd. “Seven of those 11 players are freshmen which is exciting.”
Then lightning struck… literally… forcing officials to call a 30-minute break from the action. When the two teams returned to the field, the energy had noticeably switched as Montrose used the break to regroup mentally. In addition, Kidd switched her line up to continue the ultimate goal of developing the program and players.
“We want to make sure we still get everybody in,” says Kidd. “They’re figuring out how to play together and learning so much about how to move off the ball.”
The Indians took over the game for the 20 minutes following the break scoring two goals to tie the game 2-2 heading into halftime.
The Titans returned to their previous ways in the second half. Winning everything out of the air and pressing forward at every opportunity, the Titans held Montrose in their own half for a majority of the second half. The Titans’ push opened up a number of shots on the Montrose net but the Indians’ keeper made the necessary saves to stave off the assault.
Montrose did manage to break free up-field a handful of times in the second half and a transition goal for Montrose loomed. But with Sarah Johnson at sweeper, Siena Truex dominating the middle and Lambert and Corrina Donovan shutting down the outsides, the Titans defense proved too well organized to get beat.
“They’ve learned to work really well together,” says Kidd.
After a brief discussion between the two coaches and the officials, everyone agreed to extend the game into two five-minute overtimes and the extra time proved fortuitous for the Titans. Neither team scored in the first overtime but a foul just outside the Montrose 18-yard box gave the Titans a direct kick with two minutes left in overtime and Tess Fenerty buried the shot for the 3-2 Titans’ win.
The Titans followed that win up with another one as Crested Butte edged out a 1-0 win over the Montrose C team on a goal from Stella Newman assisted by Ella Lapello.
“It was great,” says Kidd. “I feel like every game we’re exponentially better.”
The Titans will hit the road this week for their next challenge to take on the Center Vikings on Friday, April 29.
“I feel like if we keep playing the way we have, we could come away with another win,” says Kidd.