That is what you want to see, that drive to keep pushing
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans soccer team continues to gain momentum, taking down the Ridgway Demons on Thursday, April 12, and are now ranked second in the state in 2A girls soccer with a record of 8-1 with only two goals scored against them.
The Titans knew Ridgway would be tough. While the Titans beat Ridgway earlier in the season 2-0, the Demons are a solid team and would be coming into the rematch fired up.
“I think Ridgway felt they could beat us and we knew they were hungry,” says coach Julia Kidd.
The first 10 minutes played out as predicted, as Ridgway established possession and dictated the pace of the game looking to break through on the Titans early. Fortunately, the Titans defense and midfield were up to the task as midfielders stepped quick to pressure the ball and the back four of the Titans were in place to shut off alleys to the net.
“I think Ridgway definitely dictated play from the start but the midfield and defense stepped up big,” says Kidd.
As the first half wore on, the Titans took back the game, pressing into the offensive third to create chances both on the flanks and up the middle. Twice, great through-balls were just barely out of reach of the Titans strikers and a shot from outside of the 18-yard box banged off the crossbar leaving the two teams battling hard in a scoreless draw.
“We still struggle to capitalize; the top of the 18 is a mess,” says Kidd. “We need to start capitalizing on those chances. We’re not going to get a lot of those against really good teams so we need to make them count.”
The Titans then got a huge break with four minutes left in the half as goalie Rachel Potoker collected a pass with ease to turn her team back up field. With a stout tailwind and a powerful foot, Potoker sent the ball over everyone, bouncing toward the Demon net. The Ridgway goalie got caught between bounces and the ball carried over her head and into the net for a 1-0 Titans lead.
“That was crazy,” says Kidd. “I think it shifted the whole game.”
Kidd made the most of the halftime break to impress on her team the importance of pace and dictating play rather than reacting.
“We talked about how we were delayed to the ball and that we need to get to the ball first,” says Kidd.
The players took it to heart to open the second half. While playing into a stout headwind, the Titans midfield controlled the game and started pushing the ball up field. After being stymied a couple of times down the middle, the Titans started to push up the left flank and the switch paid off. A ball wide to Murphy Sloan was tipped to Ellia Pannier and Pannier pushed the ball down the line to Karina Davalos. Davalos took on the lone defender between her and the net, cut the ball back and drilled her shot into the upper corner to put Crested Butte up 2-0.
“When Karina gets frustrated, she just gets more focused,” says Kidd.
Crested Butte remained in control of the pace but both teams were caught in a scrum in the middle third of the field as the back lines of both teams were pressed high. The Titans broke through once again in the 65th minute of the game as Livie Nute chased down a ball on the endline, spun on a Demon defender and drove a low shot through, putting the Titans up 3-0.
“That’s what you want to see,” says Kidd, “that drive to keep pushing.”
The Titans defense did the rest and Crested Butte held Ridgway at bay for the final 15 minutes to seal the 3-0 win.
“Our defense was super patient and I think Ridgway just got tired,” says Kidd.
The Titans have this week off from play as the school hits their April break. When they return, they jump right back into the fire as the Titans host a rematch with Telluride on Tuesday, April 24 in Gunnison at 4 p.m.
“We have to be ready,” says Kidd. “We gave them a workout over break and they might have it in them to do it and come back strong.”