Slight shot at post season
by Than Acuff
After losing earlier in the season 4-3 in a tightly contested back-and-forth battle, revenge was on the mind of the Crested Butte Titans girls soccer team when they hosted the Ridgway Demons in Gunnison last week.
Since that early loss the Titans had made huge strides in their game, having the benefit of several more games as well as a few outdoor practices. Not only that, but the team had just won their last two games and were on a roll.
“They were psyched for the game and were definitely ready to play,” says coach Julia Kidd.
Unfortunately for the Titans, they fell short of their rubber match with Ridgway as Crested Butte struggled to find the finishing touch on several occasions and lost 1-0.
The Titans did have a couple of spots to fill on the starting roster, as the team was missing both Rachael Potoker and Sarah Johnson. But Shelby LaDuke stepped in net for Potoker and Siena Truex moved from the outside to the sweeper spot to keep the Titans defense in top form.
“We worked with Siena in that spot the game before and she’s got it down,” says Kidd.
A majority of play the first 10 minutes was held at midfield as both the defense of the Titans and the demons proved impenetrable. But a move by the Titans coaches prior to the game to have three strikers soon paid off as they found seams over the top and down the flanks. The Demon defense managed to turn away the Titans attack several times but a couple of attacks resulted in corner kicks for Crested Butte. While Murphy Sloan served up near-perfect serves on her corners, the Titans failed to find the back of the net.
Ridgway threatened midway through the first half as their top striker sliced across the top of the 18-yard box looking to fire a shot but Zoe Eymere stopped her in her tracks and pushed the ball clear of danger. Ridgway broke the scoreless tie 31 minutes into the game converting on a direct kick and carried the one-goal lead into halftime.
“We were beating them to everything in the first half but couldn’t make the final connection in attacking third,” says Kidd.
The Titans continued to press in the opening minutes of the second half but, again, finishing touches eluded them as four corner kicks in a row bounced across the face of the Ridgway net unattended.
The Demons defense tightened up as the game wore on and Ridgway managed to counterattack. Fortunately, the Titans defense remained solid and LaDuke charged off her line to shut down the one breakaway that did get through.
Crested Butte mounted a final surge in the last 10 minutes looking for the game-tying goal. The effort of Ella Lapello set up one final shot from the Titans but the ball hit off the post, leaving the Titans with the 1-0 loss when the final whistle blew.
“It was heartbreaking,” says Kidd. “They just couldn’t finish. We got so close and were knocking on the door.”
Now the Titans enter April break with practices non-existent due to travel plans. The good news though is that recent spate of warm weather means when the Titans return to workouts, they’ll have a field to practice on as they prepare for the close of the season.
“We finally get some field space in Crested Butte South and any time we get to practice outside, they start playing better as a unit on the bigger space,” says Kidd.
The close of the season is fast and furious as the Titans have the potential for five games in 10 days. Making the post-season is remote but not impossible and Kidd feels if they can secure a couple of wins down the stretch, they may squeak into the 2A tournament.
“If we can beat Telluride we will move up in the overall 2A seedings and have a possible shot at the post-season,” says Kidd.