“We knew we deserved to be there and we were ready”
by Than Acuff
Hopes were high, confidence was high, expectations, while somewhat guarded, were also high but the state run for the Crested Butte Titans girls soccer team came to a halt last week when they fell to Dawson 5-1 in the 2A state tournament semifinal on Wednesday, May 15 at All City Stadium.
The Titans spent the past two weeks on a massive roll rattling off seven wins in a row including a 5-1 win in the first round of the state tournament and an equally impressive 8-3 win in the quarterfinals.
“It was the best soccer I’ve seen them play, they were just jiving,” says coach Julia Kidd.
“We were peaking and pushing our hardest and leaving it all out on the field,” adds senior captain Anabelle Faivre.
Their work down the stretch earned the Titans a spot in the semifinals and a rematch with Dawson, the same team that knocked the Titans out of the state tournament in the semifinals last year.
“We knew we deserved to be there and we were ready,” says Faivre. “We knew what we were up against and thought we had a good chance.”
Dawson is a 2A powerhouse though and had been to the state finals the past three years in a row, including winning the title last year. To clear the Dawson hurdle, Crested Butte would need to bring their “A” game and then some.
Friends and families from Crested Butte, Gunnison and even the Denver area shuffled into the stadium, creating a strong support base right at midfield and outnumbering the Dawson fans. But once the whistle blew, it was up to the girls on the field and on the bench to ultimately determine the outcome.
It was apparent immediately that Dawson had a speed advantage on the flank, specifically the left flank, as they continued to send their outside attacker down the line and to goal. Phaedra Vierling had the dubious task of trying to stay with her and did in some instances. The times the Dawson player did get free, Siena Truex would cover for Vierling to pick her up and Emmie Houseman would then cover for Truex.
“Phaedra was the only one we had that could stay anywhere near that girl,” says Kidd. “The defense did what they could and I thought they were amazing.”
While the opening minutes proved a bit disconcerting, Anika Andersen came up with the saves needed and the Titans got their feet underneath them in time to start mounting a counterattack. While the first couple of attempts driven by Olivia Wilson showed signs of life, their first true opportunity came eight minutes into the game when Rachel Potoker corralled a pass inside the 18-yard box and was tripped by a Dawson defender to give Crested Butte a penalty kick and the chance at an early lead.
As it turned out though, while Tess Fenerty looked to push her shot to one side, the Dawson goalie guessed that way as well and stopped the shot.
“I think Dawson was a little nervous and I definitely felt a shift in their energy,” says Kidd. “If we score on that, who knows what happens?”
The constant pressure by Dawson eventually paved the way for their first goal as they struck 20 minutes into the game. Dawson scored a second goal in the 35th minute and took their 2-0 lead into halftime.
During the first half the entire fifth grade showed up to join friends and families and cheer on the Titans and Kidd brought her team over to the stands to feed off of the energy during the halftime break.
That played out in the second half. Dawson got an early look but Andersen made the save and the Titans looked more cohesive up and down the field. But this was Dawson’s fourth trip to the semifinals in a row and their composure matched Crested Butte’s energy and they tacked on a third goal in the 50th minute.
Rather than fold, the Titans kept plugging away and one minute later Fenerty netted a goal from 35 yards out to breathe some life into the Titans side. Unfortunately, Dawson responded a minute later to go up 4-1 and scored one last goal to finish off the Titans 5-1.
“I felt like we were in and out of it,” says Kidd. “We had some moments that looked good.”
“I don’t think anyone was disappointed with how we played and I don’t think the score reflects how we played,” says Faivre. “Dawson can just play hard for 80 minutes and we played with them for maybe 40 to 60 minutes. We just couldn’t keep up with them the entire game.”
While disappointed with missing a trip to the title game, Kidd feels the season was a tremendous success overall.
“Having no fields really and just 11 practices outside were some of the obstacles we had, and how far we got speaks volumes about the program,” says Kidd. “It was an amazing year and the pieces really came together. The success was everybody’s and they all felt that.”
“A lot of us have been playing together since middle school and we played our best this year because we were playing for each other,” adds Faivre. “We became really close on and off the field and that showed in how we played.”
2019 season stats
Record 14-3-1, 10-1-1 in league
Goals for 83
Goals against 20
Leading scorer: Karina Davalos 19 goals
Total practices outside 11