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Titans soccer suffers tough start to 2017 season, 0-3

Drop three in a row

by Than AcufF

The Crested Butte Titans soccer team is in the midst of its worst start in recent history, losing their first three games of the season over the past week. It started with a 3-0 loss to Salida last Thursday, continued with a 3-2 loss to Alamosa two days later and finished with a 2-1 loss to Ridgway on Tuesday, September 5.

They kicked things off on Thursday, August 31 hosting the Salida Spartans. Crested Butte hasn’t beaten Salida in at least 10 years and that unbreakable streak continued this year.

A handball in the box 15 minutes into the game gave Salida a penalty kick and they converted for an early 1-0 lead. Fifteen minutes later Salida struck again as a direct kick from 40 yards out tailed into the upper corner, giving the Spartans a 2-0 lead at halftime.

“Salida is a quality program that brings both a skilled and a physical game that overwhelmed us at first,” says coach Mike Eaton. “The team stepped up to the challenge to at least battle hard.”

Midway through the second half, Salida netted its third goal of the game, converting on a corner kick. While the game could have continued to spiral out of control, the Titans matched Salida’s physical play and started to find some openings in the final third, with one shot hitting off the post but Salida’s defense proved too stout to let the game get away and to finish off the Titans 3-0.

“I thought we brought the hard work that was prevalent throughout the two weeks of preseason,” says senior captain Dylan Eaton. “Our team chemistry just wasn’t there and Salida had more chemistry and fluidity that made them a strong opponent.”

“Once we got going toward the end of the game we were looking pretty good,” adds coach Mike Eaton. “I was satisfied with the way the team finished the game.”

The Titans then hit the road Saturday to face the Alamosa Mean Moose. Alamosa is known as strong defensively and very opportunistic on offense. The Titans took what they learned from the loss to Salida into the game, building a 1-0 lead in the first half on a goal from Carlos Franco and then going up 2-0 early in the second half on a penalty kick from Oliver Houseman.

But, as almost everyone knows, a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous lead in sports and that became a harsh reality for the Titans as Alamosa continued to battle, taking advantage of a mis-kick and confusion by the Titans to rattle off three goals and win 3-2.

“We got comfortable with where we were, got too casual and acted like the game was in our hands,” says Dylan Eaton. “We stopped looking for good passes and what little chemistry we had just fell apart.”

After dropping the first two games of the season, the Titans looked to turn things around when they hosted the Ridgway Demons on Tuesday, September 5. Ridgway is one of several quality teams in the league and always poses a problem for the Titans.

Tuesday was no exception as the Demons built a 2-0 lead in the first half off a fluke goal early in the game and then a pure hustle goal later, stunning the Titans.

“We weren’t getting outplayed, we just weren’t outplaying them,” says coach Mike Eaton. “The team let down after falling behind 2-0, but we adjusted the formation in the second half and they started to turn things around.”

The Titans regrouped to bring a better game in the second half but the attacking third proved troublesome for the Titans and they struggled to create any offense as the Demon defense proved well organized. The Titans finally broke the seal as a cross from Jovany Aguirre hit off the keeper’s hands and into the net, but it was literally too little, too late as the final whistle blew just one minute later, signaling the third loss in a row for the Titans.

“We definitely brought everything we had to the table,” says Dylan Eaton. “They got two lucky goals and that put us down. We fought hard but just couldn’t connect up top.”

“It’s become obvious that we struggle on offense and we need to find a solution to our troubles, not only scoring, but even creating scoring chances,” adds coach Mike Eaton.

The team returns to workouts this week as they prepare for the next game when they host Cortez on Saturday, September 9 at 1 p.m.

“We’ve dropped the first three games of the season and that hurts,” says coach Mike Eaton. “Hopefully we can use the rest of the week to dial in things on offense and see some production and snap this losing streak when we play Cortez on Saturday.”

“If we play like we played against Ridgway and build more chemistry in spots, we can hand it to Cortez and be the team I know we can be,” adds Dylan Eaton.

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