Remain on track in league play
by Than Acuff
After falling to non-league opponent Delta last Tuesday, the Titans soccer team recovered to take down Alamosa on Friday, extending their winning streak in league play to four games.
The Delta Panthers are a notoriously strong program. Some years the Titans can match wits with the Western Slope powerhouse; other years the Panthers prove too powerful to stop.
This year is one of those years for the Panthers as they are on a tear through their league play and are looking to be a 3A state title contender later this year. To make matters worse for Crested Butte, they were missing senior captain Dylan Eaton for the game, as well as starting central defender Tate Young, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury.
Despite the shortcomings in their line-up, the Titans proved valiant in their resolve against Delta. While Delta controlled possession and had the Titans pinned for a majority of the first half, the Crested Butte defense, anchored by central players junior Zane Reda and senior Woody Martineau, scrambled to block shots and clear the ball free of the 18-yard box. Meanwhile, Titans’ net minder Slater Weil stood on his head in net making numerous saves, both point-blank and from distance. But the constant pressure eventually paid off for Delta as they netted two goals to take a 2-0 lead into halftime.
Crested Butte reorganized during the halftime break to find some success up-field in the second half and get a couple of chances on goal but Delta’s defense was as tough as their attack to hold the Titans at bay.
Meanwhile, despite the heroic efforts of Weil in goal and the pure hustle of the Titans defense and midfield, Delta scored two more in the second half to cap their 4-0 win.
Crested Butte then turned their attention to revenge as they hosted Alamosa on Friday, September 22. Alamosa took down the Titans earlier in the season 3-2 as Crested Butte blew a 2-0 lead to eventually fall.
As a result, the Titans were determined to avenge the tough loss and while the week of workouts was somewhat erratic, the team was cognizant of the task at hand.
“The practice the day before the game was definitely sloppy but we had more energy than I had seen before,” says Eaton. “We knew that Alamosa is not a tough team but they are tough individually.”
The Titans carried those same two characteristics into the game the next day against Alamosa as their individual touches were erratic but their hustle was spot-on.
“We had a lot of bad touches but we were definitely working harder than the time we played them before,” says Eaton. “I was proud of the team because even though our touch wasn’t very good, we made up for it working hard as a unit.”
The Titans built a 2-0 lead on Alamosa by the second half as freshman Gabi Marmalejo picked the upper corner from just outside the 18-yard box and senior Oliver Houseman blasted a shot from 25 yards out.
But, the tides turned as Alamosa picked up their play to match the Titans’ pace. Alamosa’s effort paid off as Crested Butte suffered an own goal and then a failure to clear the ball resulted in a second Alamosa goal, tying the game 2-2 with 20 minutes left to play.
“I was like, ‘Oh shoot, this is not what we wanted or what we needed,’” says Eaton. “But I saw determination on the faces of the team and I knew we were going to win it.”
The Titans eventually responded with 10 minutes left in regulation as senior Michael Hensley played a ball deep into the Alamosa 18-yard box and sophomore Carlos Franco slipped in to tap the ball past the Alamosa keeper for the eventual game-winner.
“We were angry and we used that instead of letting it control us and stayed composed,” says Eaton.
The Titans hit the road this weekend for their annual overnighter as they play Pagosa Springs on Friday, September 29 and Bayfield on Saturday, September 30.
“We need to bring some energy and fire to practice and bring that to the game,” says Eaton. “Pagosa Springs and Bayfield are good teams but, if we play our game, I think we can bring it.”