Playing Friday, in Gunnison, under the lights
by Than Acuff
It turned out to be another barnburner on Friday, September 14 between the Crested Butte Titans and the Telluride Miners, with the Titans edging out a 1-0 win before a capacity homecoming crowd.
Almost every year, Crested Butte and Telluride are in the mix for a league title and when the two teams meet at homecoming, it typically comes down to the wire. Friday was no exception.
“It was crazy,” says captain and goalkeeper Slater Weil. “The intensity is super high from the fans and from the players on the pitch.”
The Miners bring a high-powered mindset to the game each time and came out Friday mounting continual counterattacks in the opening minutes of the game, pushing the Titans back on their heels.
“They came out gunning and for a second there it didn’t seem like we were ready,” says Weil. “But the boys started bringing it, which was good to see.”
Supported by the hometown crowd and secured by the well-organized back line of Zane Reda, Owen Berv and Finn Smith, Crested Butte managed to hold off the initial surge as Titan midfielders Tommy Linehan and Kye Matlock collected their composure and looked to create a more cohesive plan. Telluride’s constant pressure thwarted several attempts by the Titans to settle the game as it developed into an old Western shootout, with each team trading off long passes to their high-speed strikers.
“We both play a pretty similar game and their midfield was strong and their keeper was really good,” says Weil.
Telluride’s effort eventually led to a penalty in the Titans’ 18-yard box 30 minutes into the game offering up a penalty kick for the Miners but Weil made the save and the team cleared the ball from harm’s way to keep the two teams notched in a 0-0 tie heading into halftime.
“Everyone was pretty comfortable with the first half but everyone was ready to give that much more in the second half,” says Weil.
The Titans suffered a blow just prior to the end of the first half as Reda was forced from the game due to injury so Tate Young was called on to fill the middle of the back line and the high-paced play continued into the second half. Nathan Miller joined Linehan in the midfield and provided a much-needed spark as he continued to make threatening runs straight up the middle. A collision between the Telluride goalie and Carlos Franco created additional chaos on the field and tempers were close to flaring—but the teams walked the fine line between intensity and out of control.
The ultimate decider came with two minutes left in regulation when a foul set the Titans up with an indirect kick within striking distance. Matlock and Franco devised a play and Franco’s shot glanced off a Telluride defender and into the back of the net.
Telluride came close in the final minute of play when their outside midfielder broke free to net but Weil came up with one last big save and the final whistle sounded, sealing the 1-0 win for Crested Butte.
“It was awesome to see at the end that we had that extra drive,” says Weil. “It’s always awesome to win homecoming and having the fans storming onto the field. It’s the coolest feeling.”
“We are learning what it takes to win,” adds coach Bob Piccaro. “Now we need to do that a little sooner in the game.”
Things remain intense for the Titans when they face Alamosa on Friday, September 21 as, for the first time ever, the Titans will play under the lights at the Gunnison high school football field. Kick-off for the JV will be at 5 p.m. with the varsity slated to start at 7 p.m.
The Titans then hit the road on Saturday for a game in Pagosa Springs.