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Titans soccer stumbles to lose shot at state

Look to close season on high note

by Than Acuff

The Crested Butte Titans soccer team hit a high this season heading into the October break when they took down the Basalt Longhorns to finish off a solid two weeks of play, winning five out of six games. Then the wheels fell off entirely as the Titans lost the next three games to fall out of contention for post-season play.

It all started in Telluride as the Titans showed up sluggish against a fired-up and talented Telluride team on Friday, October 13. Telluride was determined to avenge a loss to the Titans from earlier in the season and was noticeably a step faster throughout the first half. The Titans held on to stay in contention but Telluride eventually opened the scoring, converting on a penalty kick to take a 1-0 lead in halftime.

“I think we were panicked in the first half and without good reason,” says senior captain Dylan Eaton. ”We needed to calm down and play our game.”

The Titans looked to switch gears in the second half but couldn’t make the transition to match Telluride’s pace. Telluride scored in the opening 10 minutes of the second half and then sealed the deal with a third goal with 15 minutes remaining to win 3-0.

“Telluride was good but our game would have won,” says Eaton. “But since we played panicked the game was not in our favor. That was a stinger to lose to our rivals and definitely not a good start to the four-game run.”

The Titans looked to turn things around the next day as they hosted the Pagosa Springs Pirates on Saturday, October 14. And for the most part, they did as the Titans brought a more cohesive and quicker game to the field.

But, cohesion and quickness needs to result in goals and the Titans couldn’t find the net in the first half, while the Pirates made the most of their limited chances on net to take a 1-0 lead.

The Titans finally found the back of the net midway through the second half as Walker Carroll took a pass to the end line to drive at the near post. The first two attempts were turned away but Tommy Linehan found a seam through the flesh mass to score and tie the game 1-1.

“We were obviously working hard and it was just a matter of time before we would score,” says Eaton. “We had so many shots, just not many on goal.”

The Titans kept pressing but kept missing chances and the game finished 1-1, forcing the two teams to battle into overtime.

Crested Butte picked up where they left off but nine minutes into the first overtime, the Pirates broke up field to find their striker with a long pass and he finished to hand the Titans a 2-1 defeat.

“I thought we played really well—compared to Telluride the day before, we had completely switched gears,” says Eaton. “It was definitely another tough loss and a hard blow to our ego and our momentum.”

The Titans had Sunday off and then boarded the bus Monday to face the Bayfield Wolverines with second place in the league on the line. Both teams matched wits with possession play and physicality but Bayfield’s speed proved the decider as they edged out a 1-0 win to hand the Titans their third loss in a row.

“Both teams worked hard and were pretty composed on both sides. It was physical and intense,” says Eaton. “It was just a matter of who struck first—and they did.”

Crested Butte will remain on the road as they face the league-leading Ridgway Demons and then finish the year on Saturday, October 21 when they head to Cortez.

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