Youth leads the charge
The Crested Butte Titans soccer team gets their biggest test every season from Salida, an out-of-league opponent with a rich tradition of success. The past two years the Titans came out of the contests with wins but this year the Salida squad appears back on track with a handful of talented players and a disciplined and physical style of play.
It took Crested Butte the first 30 minutes of the game to get their legs underneath them. Fortunately, the Titans defense and junior goalkeeper Ben Frame managed to hold Salida to one goal despite a majority of the play in front of their own net.
The Titans recovered to dominate the final 10 minutes of play with an obvious edge in possession but the Salida back four proved impenetrable, turning away every Titans attack.
Crested Butte maintained their possession style in the second half with juniors Sky Egelhoff and Sam Evans running the right side of the field and seniors Connor McGuire and Ricky Sandoval shutting down the Salida counter-attacks.
Still, the Salida defense and their goalkeeper turned away every attempt by the Titans to break the seal before Salida sent a dagger into the heart of the Titans as their star striker blasted a shot top-shelf from 35 yards out to seal the 2-0 fate of the Titans squad.
Two days later, the youth of the Crested Butte Titans team held an uprising as Crested Butte headed southwest to face the Bayfield Panthers for the first league game of the season on Saturday, September 12.
With a seasoned coach at the helm, Bayfield always provides a stout challenge to the Titans but Crested Butte was determined to eradicate the sting of the Salida loss.
Crested Butte opened the game with their typical possession style of play, matched with a far more determined style of attack.
After several close calls on offense the Titans found the back of the net in the 15th minute when junior Henry Linehan buried a penalty kick.
Ten minutes later the Titans added a second goal as freshman Graham Koval drove a shot off the crossbar, with two Titans following the rebound. Sophomore Luis Aguirre’s attempt was blocked but sophomore Collin Dill was there for the second rebound and punched it in for a 2-0 Titans lead.
Bayfield’s all-star midfielder Jamie Tinnin offered the Panthers a brief respite from the Titan attack late in the first half, scoring from 30 yards out but the Titans opened the second half scoring two goals in two minutes when freshman Jesse Reeves pushed a loose ball through and Koval slipped a pass to Dill for Dill’s second goal of the game to ice the 4-1 win.
The Titans will now head into their league schedule for good as they travel to Ridgway on Friday, September 18 and then host Center on Saturday, September 19 at 11 a.m. at Rainbow Field.