Even bigger test in state semifinal match
by Than Acuff
The season continues for the Crested Butte boys soccer team as they won their 2A state quarterfinal playoff match against Heritage Christian on Saturday, October 27 and are headed to Denver to face Denver Christian in the semifinals on Saturday, November 3.
While seeded number one in the tournament, the Titans were aware of the challenge that was ahead of them in the quarterfinals. As a result, workouts were focused and intense and the players worked to keep nerves in check on game day.
“We went into it thinking this is a Front Range team and they play solid teams all season, so we figured they’d have some game,” says senior captain Slater Weil. “I think everyone was confident but nervous. We had a big fan base and the whole town came together to watch, which was cool.”
The Titans’ play in the opening 10 minutes showed that combination of nerves and confidence as they set the tone from the opening kick-off and started pushing hard into the offensive third. Shots missed the mark or were blocked by the compact Heritage defense, and then the game got dicey as a miscue on a punt gave Heritage Christian a clear path to goal, and they scored.
Ten minutes later the Titans tied it up as a shot from Nathan Miller glanced off a Heritage player, but Heritage Christian responded and were sitting on top 2-1 at halftime.
“Even after that second goal we kept pressing and that really showed in the second half,” says Weil.
The Titans returned to the field in the second half playing their same game but with much more intensity. Finding the middle completely clogged, they turned their attack to the flanks to offer up several chances on net. Their work rate paid off as a shot from Tommy Linehan slipped through the Heritage keeper’s hands and into the net 10 minutes into the second half. Moments later Linehan scored again off a corner kick from Gaby Marmolejo and the Titans had their first lead of the game.
Pressure continued to create opportunities, and opportunities turned into more goals. A cross glanced off Zane Reda and a Heritage Christian player to slip past the goalie and Kye Matlock followed on a shot to stuff it through for a 5-2 Titans lead with 15 minutes left in the game.
“After we tied it back up, our confidence was back up and we started shelling them to see what we could do,” says Weil.
With Crested Butte’s back three making a concerted effort to close off any and all passes and punts down the middle, Crested Butte carried their momentum all the way to the final whistle to seal the 5-2 win.
“I feel like a lot of us came into that game thinking we got this game and once we won it that’s one more false summit,” adds Weil.
The Titans are now headed to Denver All-City Stadium to face another Front Range title contender, Denver Christian, on Saturday, November 3 at 1:30 p.m.
“They’re going to be good, it’s down to the top four teams now,” says Weil. “We’re number one in the state for a reason, we just have to show it. If we come out like we did in the second half, we should have a chance to beat this team.”
“I thought we won that game with grit and we have to continue with that,” says coach Bob Piccaro.