Homecoming game this Friday
By Than Acuff
The team knew it was going to be a rough stretch of the season with five games scheduled over seven days but the Crested Butte Titans rose to the challenge finishing off what they called “Hell Week” with three wins, a draw and one loss.
“The players displayed grit and continued to develop as a team over the week,” says coach Bob Piccaro.
It all started on Saturday, September 1 with a double overtime 1-0 win over Alamosa as the Titans looked to gain some momentum heading into their toughest opponent of the season, the Salida Spartans.
Crested Butte makes a point of putting non-league opponent Salida on their schedule every year to get a glimpse into the game being played on the bigger stage. Tuesday, September 4 was no exception as the Titans battled against the powerful squad before succumbing to the high-paced, well-oiled Salida machine eventually falling 4-0.
“We knew that team was going to come out firing and be well-organized,” says senior captain Tommy Linehan. “We had good intensity the entire game, it was just some of the small details that cost us.”
Just two days later, the Titans hosted another typically strong non-league opponent, Delta. Delta often has a potent combination of speed and skill and can overwhelm opponents early in a game.
The Titans learned something from their Salida experience and rather than waiting to see what Delta had, Crested Butte decided to set the tone in the opening half.
The Titans midfield opened with heavy pressure on the ball and looked for success down the flanks and up top. Crested Butte had numerous chances on net only to miss the mark, but the team effort eventually panned out as Crested Butte built a 2-0 lead early in the second half on goals from Connor Crossen and Tommy Linehan with Gaby Marmolejo providing both assists.
But complacency took hold of Crested Butte, and Delta knocked in two goals to tie the game and the teams battled through two scoreless overtimes to finish with a 2-2 draw.
“We built off of the Salida game and a chalk talk and were looking to take down one of those bigger schools,” says Linehan. “Complacency and a lack of communication took us down and the hard part about that game was the things that we’d been working on since preseason let us down.”
The three games over four days left the Titans team depleted as they returned to play on Friday, September 7 to face Cortez opening a small window of opportunity for Cortez to upset Crested Butte.
“We were definitely sore, had lots of dings and bangs and were tired,” says Linehan.
Knowing how a game can turn on you quickly, the Titans made a push in the first half to gain an early advantage and dash any Cortez hopes for a win. Linehan led the team with three goals in the first half, Crossen added a fourth and the Titans were up 4-0 at halftime.
Content and dog-tired, the Titans then cruised through the second half as the back line of Owen Berv, Finn Smith and Henry Bryndal made sure that nothing got past them and the Titans eased their way to the 4-0 win.
“We put everything we had left in us out there and carried the fire from the Delta game,” says Linehan.
Crested Butte wrapped up Hell Week with a 9-0 drubbing of the Bayfield Wolverines on Saturday, September 8. Linehan continued his scoring ways with two goals in the first half off assists from Kye Matlock and Marmolejo. Marmolejo then got on the scoring end of a combination and Chris Myers crashed onto a cross from Jovany Aguirre to put the Titans up 4-0 at halftime.
This time the Titans kept the throttle down. With Nathan Miller and the back line holding Bayfield’s top players in check, Dagan Schwartz threatening up top and Slater Weil making the saves necessary to hold the shutout, Crested Butte tacked on five more goals in the second half.
Linehan completed his hat trick, Matlock blasted a low shot from 20 yards out, Fabiano Odenbreit scored off an assist from Schwartz, Eric Lain drove one in from 25 yards out and Aguirre finished it off with a late strike capping the 9-0 win and finishing off “Hell Week” on a high note.
“The energy behind that was just about burying our opponent,” says Linehan. “Everyone was mentally there, maybe not physically, but mentally, and were talking and the talk gave us chemistry and therefore energy.”
The Titans now prepare to host Telluride on Friday, September 14 for the annual Homecoming game at Rainbow field at 4 p.m.
“Telluride will come in with a lot of energy,” says Linehan. “The keys to our success will be working as a team, good communication and when we do get chances, making sure we take care of those chances.”