Out of chaos comes order
by Than Acuff
It’s been an interesting week for the Crested Butte Titans soccer team and amid all of the mayhem, the team still battled to a tight win over the Alamosa Mean Moose on the road Friday, September 27 and then returned home to rattle off a Homecoming victory over the Pagosa Springs Pirates on Saturday, September 28.
Fatigue kicked in on the Titans earlier in the week as players were noticeably tired during workouts and muddled through practices. A film session and block of restorative stretching with team health counselor Ginny Turner had the players revived, and following a solid practice on Thursday, the team appeared ready to enter into the final five games of the season.
But an injury to striker Dagan Schwartz and a variety of other issues had coaches call on younger players to step up into the game against Alamosa as well as calling on current varsity players to shift into new positions. In the end, everyone stepped up to the challenge as Crested Butte edged out a 2-1 win.
The rash of changes handcuffed the Titans through the first 15 minutes of the game against Alamosa as the Mean Moose defense and their goalie held Crested Butte out of the attacking third. The Mean Moose converted on a direct kick to take a 1-0 lead but the deficit woke Crested Butte out of their confusion as they started to find their attacking mojo.
The effort paid off with three wide-open looks on the Mean Moose net but the shots carried wide and when the Alamosa goalie saved a penalty kick, things were looking dire for the Titans.
“We were flat, maybe a case of bus legs and Alamosa was pretty fast,” says coach Bob Piccaro. “The changes may have had an effect but the kids need to learn to play no matter what.”
Then things got worse as Titans starting striker Gabi Marmolejo went down with an injury and had to leave the game. Nevertheless, the Titans pressed on and tied the game up in the final minute of the first half when Carlos Franco carried the ball along the end line and fed it into the six-yard box for Kye Matlock to punch through a six-man melee and tie the game.
“Basically, we woke up and started dominating possession and holding the ball in Alamosa’s half,” says Piccaro. “If you keep the ball in their end for that long, you’re going to break through.”
Then storms rolled through and the two teams had to wait more than two hours in the locker rooms, per high school athletics lightning protocol.
The break appeared to merely rejuvenate the Crested Butte Titans with Matlock, Nathan Miller and Hayden Faivre dominating the midfield and Franco wreaking havoc in the attacking third.
After a couple more near-misses, the Titans finally broke the tie in the 62nd minute as Matlock played a long ball over the top to Franco sprinting up field and Franco drilled his shot over the keeper’s shoulder for a 2-1 lead.
The Titans midfield and defense did the rest for the remaining 18 minutes to keep the Mean Moose from getting close and the Titans escaped with the win.
“After the delay the kids came out and did what we asked them to do,” says Piccaro. “It was actually fun to watch and they showed how well they can play.”
The delay had the Titans back home at midnight and then up and at it the next morning to host their Homecoming game against Pagosa Springs on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Concerns about fatigue were laid to rest early as the Titans fed off of the Homecoming crowd’s energy to score two early goals as Eric Lain scored both off assists from Franco.
Pagosa converted on a penalty kick 10 minutes later for a brief scare but Crested Butte came right back to score three more goals as Davis McNeill slipped through to finish and Franco tallied two more goals.
“It looked like Pagosa had bus legs and were a little flat and we took it to them right off the bat,” says Piccaro. “They started to wake up and challenged us but we also stepped it up and started playing some good ball.”
The Titans added a sixth goal eight minutes into the second half as Josias Navarette tapped in a loose ball on a corner kick and then Navarette struck again in the 75th minute when Chris Myers attacked down the flank and found Navarette open at the top of the 18-yard box with a pass and Navarette drove the shot home to cap the 7-1 win.
The Titans have another week of workouts before they head to Basalt on Saturday, October 5 for another non-league challenge against another stout 3A opponent.
“We have a week to heal and continue building on our conditioning,” says Piccaro. “Basalt will be tough but we have time to prepare and continue working on things.”
For more photos visit: http://crestedbuttenews.com/2019/09/soccer-cb-vs-ridgeway-9-27-19/