“There were a little bit of nerves but they really don’t seem phased”
by Than Acuff
Back in February, just prior to the start of the 2018 Crested Butte Titans girls soccer season, coach Julia Kidd had to make a dentist appointment. Unsure of how the upcoming season would shake out, she decided Tuesday, May 15 would work, since that would be the week of the semifinal state game and for the team to make it that far into the season would be a minor miracle.
It turns out Kidd will have to reschedule that appointment: The Titans girls soccer team won their quarterfinal state game on Friday, May 11 and Kidd will be busy on Tuesday getting her team ready for their upcoming semifinal game.
The Titans finished the regular season ranked fourth in the state, earning a bye in the first round and some extra time to rest, recover and then reboot for the quarterfinal match last Friday.
“Monday was rough but the rest of the week they showed up ready,” says Kidd. “This team knows what needs to happen and we just focused on honing the craft. Not trying anything new, just making sure that we are good at what we do.”
Meanwhile, Front Range Christian won their opening state tournament game on Tuesday, led by their striker who fired off a hat trick, leaving the Titans to host the Front Range team on Friday in Gunnison.
Playing in a state tournament game was unchartered territory for the Titans, so Kidd reminded them of the significance of the match-up.
“There were a little bit of nerves but they really didn’t seem phased,” says Kidd. “I just told them that you only get to play your first state game once and to enjoy it.”
Both teams seemed somewhat reserved in the opening ten minutes but the Titans set the tone, stepping to the ball faster than Front Range Christian and linking passes when available. Murphy Sloan got free to fire off a couple of beautiful crosses and goalie Rachel Potoker was on point, quick off of her line to scoop up anything that slipped through her defense.
“Within the first 10 minutes of the game I said to myself, this game is winnable,” says Kidd.
But, the opening 10 minutes were not all smooth sailing, since starting centerback Siena Truex had to leave the field with an injury, causing Kidd to make adjustments to her back line. Fortunately, the Titans midfield won the battles in the middle third of the field and Truex eventually returned to the field.
Potoker made a key save 22 minutes into the first half and after a disjointed effort from both teams, the Titans regrouped as Phaedra Vierling brought composure to the team with her efforts on the outside, shutting down Front Range Christian’s attack and initiating possession with pinpoint passing.
But the injury threat returned for Truex and the Titans. After spending the entire half keeping the middle closed down with Annabelle Faivre, a succession of head balls further exacerbated Truex’s initial injury and she was forced to exit the game with two minutes left in the first half. The team reshuffled again and closed out the half strong, but the teams remained deadlocked in a scoreless tie.
While Kidd was happy overall with her team’s effort in the first half, she knew they had more to offer and called on them to bring their game up for the second half.
“I told them they were playing well but that it wasn’t our best version of soccer,” says Kidd. “Make life easier and get to the ball first.”
With Siena out, sister Sophia Truex moved from outside to the middle spot, and Sydney Stoneberg was called on to take over on the outside defensive position. Despite losing their leader in the middle, the Titans defense remained solid as ever with Stoneberg and Vierling shutting down the flanks and Faivre and Sophia stout in the middle.