Run into buzzsaw against Delta
by Than Acuff
There are five to seven programs in 3A boys soccer each year that stand above the rest, and Delta, depending on the year, is one of those programs. The Crested Butte Titans soccer team found that out firsthand as they fell to the Delta Panthers 7-2 on Tuesday, September 20 in a non-league match-up.
“Delta is very good,” says assistant coach Prawit Durgan. “Every player moves off of the ball well, they work well together and, as a team, they play good offense and good defense.”
Delta jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first 20 minutes of the game as the Titans stumbled around trying to get their feet under them. Crested Butte finally answered back as Alden Watkins blasted a shot on frame from 25 yards out. The Delta keeper made the initial save, but Jovany Aguirre followed to head in the rebound.
The Titans cut further into the Delta lead at the start of the second half when Merlin Mapes found the Delta keeper off his line and floated a shot over his head and into the net from 35 yards out.
But that was it from the Titans as Delta picked their game pace back up to full speed to net three more goals and finish off the Titans 7-2.
“We take away a good experience from that game and we saw what teams at the state tournament will be like if we make it there,” says Durgan.
Crested Butte looked to get back on track when they headed to Alamosa on Saturday, September 24 for another league match-up. The Titans handed the Alamosa Mean Moose a 5-0 loss earlier in the season, but Alamosa is notoriously tough at home and can cause the Titans fits with their hustle and compact defense and rapid transition to offense.
“The main concern was their counterattack and catching our entire team off guard and scoring an easy goal,” says Durgan.
That concern came to fruition 15 minutes into the game as a turnover at midfield led to an Alamosa counter attack and goal for a 1-0 Mean Moose lead.
Despite dominating possession, Crested Butte stalled on offense as their play was sluggish entering the offensive third. The slow pace allowed Alamosa to get players back on defense and hold off the Titans’ attack.
The lone time Crested Butte stepped up the play on offense, they equalized, as a pass found Dylan Eaton crashing the far bar and he drained his shot to tie the game 1-1 heading into halftime.
The coaches pointed out to the team the recipe for success at halftime in an effort to try to break the Alamosa hex on the Titans.
“We told them that the plan was to be more direct with our offense and on attack and take more shots,” explains Durgan. “We also emphasized team defense to keep the ball in their half with high pressure from the whole team.”
While shots were taken, none were successful and as time wore on, the Titans grew impatient and started forcing the ball into the Alamosa defense.
“Players were hesitant to take outside shots, hesitant to switch fields and resorted to playing the ball down the middle which left us very vulnerable to their counterattacks,” says Durgan.
The game finished tied 1-1, sending it into overtime and the Titans’ fell prey once again to the Mean Moose counterattack. Despite space on the flanks, Crested Butte looked to force the game down the middle, and another midfield turnover led to an Alamosa breakaway and the game-winning goal, leaving the Titans with their first league loss of the season thus far.
The Titans will host Cortez on Friday, September 30 at 3:30 p.m. and then remain at home to host the Pagosa Springs Pirates on Saturday, October 1 at 1 p.m.