Tie and loss in league matchups
by Than Acuff
The West Elk Soccer Association (WESA) U18 soccer team had high hopes heading into their two matches last week but fell far short of expectations, tying one match and losing the second.
WESA hosted Gunnison on Wednesday, May 17 for a rematch of a game earlier this season when the two teams battled to a scoreless draw, with Gunnison dominating the majority of the game. With a little more time under their feet and on grass, the hope was that WESA could adjust and bring a better game to the second showdown.
“We were hoping we wouldn’t tie again—we wanted the W,” says junior midfielder Oliver Houseman. “When we played them before they were passing circles around us, so we went with three central-midfielders.”
The switch had a positive effect as WESA matched Gunnison’s strength in the middle and the two teams were trading off attacks at both ends of the field. WESA managed to string together numerous passes working toward their goal of a possession-style attack but struggled to add the final ingredient to the recipe: Goals.
“We were able to cut off the space they had the game before and build our attack but we weren’t finishing it off,” says Houseman.
With 20 minutes left in the game, it looked like it was going to come down to one strike to determine the game’s outcome. Then, a storm front rolled in, pounding the field with horizontal snow and the two teams struggled to get through to the final whistle, leaving them with another scoreless draw.
“There came a point when players on both teams were losing motivation and a lot of feeling in their extremities,” says Houseman.
WESA then hit the road on Sunday, May 21 for a rematch with Carbondale. Carbondale edged out a 2-0 win over WESA in their first meeting but WESA was limited to one sub, and eventually no subs, that first game, so with a full squad, the team was poised to avenge the earlier loss.
While WESA did open with control of all aspects of play, as time wore on, the Crested Butte team started to cool off and ease off the throttle. Meanwhile, Carbondale gained strength as the first half proceeded, catching WESA asleep on two occasions to take a 2-0 lead by halftime.
“I think we came out pretty strong but got sluggish, stopped moving and stopped talking, which doesn’t help anything,” says Houseman. “We had some good opportunities but they would just die on the vine.”
WESA looked to climb back into the game in the second half and were on pace with three great chances early, but the shots missed their marks. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Carbondale struck again as WESA was caught sleeping on a long punt and Carbondale’s striker poked in his third goal of the game. WESA didn’t fold but struggled to find anything on attack and Carbondale finished the game off with one last goal to hand Crested Butte a 4-0 loss.
“We came out strong again but that withered away,” says Houseman. “Carbondale was well-positioned and good at closing down spaces and options for us up front.”
WESA looks to close out the spring season on a high note when they host a club team out of Ridgway on Sunday, May 28 for two games on the school field at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“So far we’ve had some pretty good play but we’re just not finishing,” says Houseman. “We need to keep our heads, keep talking, keep up the movement, and when everything is working together, we’ll get some goals.”