“Part of it was nerves but I knew they’d pull it together”
by Than Acuff
It wasn’t pretty but the Titans soccer team got the job done, edging out a 2-1 overtime win against the Telluride Miners at the Homecoming game Friday, September 16.
The rivalry has been ongoing since the inception of the Crested Butte Titans soccer program with the teams battling each other year in and year out. Rarely is the game a blow out for either side as the two teams have traded off wins, losses and ties throughout their history.
Last year the Miners came back from a 2-0 deficit at the Titans Homecoming game to pull off a 3-2 win. This year, things looked drastically different as the Miners took an early 1-0 lead on a direct kick in the sixth minute of the game.
“After that goal we sort of fell apart and I thought we were panicking a little bit because Telluride was in our half for most of the start of the game,” says assistant coach Prawit Durgan. “Part of it was nerves but I knew they’d pull it together.”
The Miners continued to threaten in the opening 10 minutes of the game as their highly skilled lone striker proceeded to cause the Titans’ defense fits. Crested Butte goaltender Josh Pruett made two big saves early in the match and Alden Watkins and Garrett Pierson clamped down on the Miners’ striker as the game progressed, allowing Crested Butte to find openings up field. Crested Butte set up numerous chances on net but shots flew wide or off the post and while the Titans had gained the advantage in the game, they remained down 1-0 midway through the half.
As the Titans defense found their shape and communication improved, they handcuffed the Telluride attack as Tate Young dominated everything in the air and down the middle. But Telluride’s hustle at midfield continued to frustrate the Titans’ transition as hurried passes missed their marks and bad touches were easily turned clear by the Miners’ defense. Crested Butte continued to look for the quick passes through the Miners’ back four but their keeper was quick off of his line to scoop up the long pass and the Titans went into halftime down 1-0.
“I liked most of what I saw in the first half,” says Durgan. “We were creating chances and getting shots off and you’re doing something right if you getting chances.”
The second half continued much like the first half with the Titans’ edging out the Miners with possession but both teams struggling to gain an advantage. The Titans pressed hard midway through the half and the pressure paid off as the Titans earned an indirect kick directly in front of the Miners net. Despite a human wall set up by the Miners from post to post, a tap of the ball by Noah Dumas and a blast from Patrick Seifert hit off the side of the post and in to tie the game 1-1.
At this point the game fell into a war of attrition as the Titans looked for chances on offense while their defense held the Miners at bay. Telluride’s top player broke loose at one point to fire a shot from 20 yards out, but Pruett stretched out to deny the upper corner and push the ball wide.
Crested Butte had the Miners pinned for the final 10 minutes of the game but struggled to finish sending the game into overtime.
The Titans carried their momentum into the overtime period, breaking free in the first minute for a one-on-one with the Miner keeper. The netminder denied the initial attack but one minute later Seifert slipped a pass through the back four and Merlin Mapes ran onto the pass and drilled it past the outstretched arms of the keeper for the game-winning goal.
“I expected us to win but in order to do that we needed to move the ball quicker in the midfield and keep the through balls away from the keeper,” says Durgan. “It was a good win, a hard fought win. We didn’t play our best but we picked up the hustle and that made the difference.
The Titans hosted 3A powerhouse Delta on Tuesday, September 20 and then head to the San Luis Valley to face the Alamosa Mean Moose on Saturday, September 24.