Heading into the lion’s den
by Than Acuff
After dropping its first two non-league games of the season to Salida and Delta, the Titans battled their way to a 2-1 win over non-league opponent Basalt to improve their overall record to 6-4.
The Titans schedule teams such as Salida, Delta and Basalt to get a glimpse of a higher level of soccer from throughout the state. And while the Titans typically fall to those non-league opponents, they gain experience that they can pull from if they end up making it to the state tournament.
The win over Basalt may have marked a transition for the Titans though as they appear to be gaining ground on the field and look to improve upon their game to incorporate both hustle and smart play.
“I felt like we worked more as a team,” says senior captain Dylan Eaton. “We’ve been holding the ball too long, too many touches, and we didn’t do that against Basalt. We had a lot of opportunities; we just didn’t capitalize.”
The Titans took control of the game early but erratic transitions into the offensive third made for a scattered attack. While the Titans defense proved sound, Basalt broke the scoreless tie 30 minutes into the game, scoring off a long pass over the top.
The goal shattered the Titans effort temporarily but they recovered to regain the momentum of the game and turn their attack up a notch in the final five minutes of the half.
Their persistence and diligence paid off as Eaton slipped free inside the 18-yard box to connect on the ball, hitting his shot off the hands of the Basalt keeper to trickle in, tying the game 1-1 by halftime.
“The ball went where I wanted it to go but it was the slowest shot I think I’ve ever taken,” says Eaton. “But, it went in and I thought, maybe luck is on our side for once.”
The second half played out much like the first as the Titans continued to press high on Basalt and create opportunities. While they struggled to find the finishing touch, their effort paid off when Basalt was called for a foul inside the penalty area to give Crested Butte a penalty kick. Oliver Houseman converted the free kick and the Titans were on top 2-1 with 20 minutes left to play.
While Basalt was looking to equalize, the Titans defense and goalie Slater Weil proved unbreakable to finish off the game and seal the 2-1 victory.
“We knew we could win. It was just a matter of putting the ball in the back of the net,” says Eaton. “I thought it was well deserved. I told the guys before the game we had to work for it and they did and it was nice to see some results from that.”
The Titans will have two days off over the break before returning to workouts as they prepare for an insane final week of play. The have four games in five days, including three on the road. It all starts with a trip to Telluride on Friday, October 13, followed by their final home game of the season when they host Pagosa Springs on Saturday, October 14 at 11 a.m. They return to the road to face Bayfield on Monday and then Ridgway on Tuesday.
“I’m expecting everyone to work hard. Right now it’s all about momentum,” says Eaton. “We need to win the first two games and then carry that momentum because we’re going to be tired, there’s no doubt. We have the drive and the heart—it’s just about applying that. And if we keep that drive and passion, we can make it to state.”