Titans soccer back on track for end of season finale

League record improves to 5-2-1

They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn, and so it seemed for the Crested Butte Titans high school soccer team.

Things were looking grim for the young squad one week ago after losing at home to Telluride and then playing to a scoreless draw with Pagosa Springs, bringing their record to 2-2-1 at the midway point of the season.
But something happened to the Titans as they prepared for a three-game home stand last week.
A renewed sense of purpose took over the team and they rallied to two wins and a tie to bring their league record to 5-2-1 (the Pagosa tie last week was ruled a win for Crested Butte after a CHSAA violation was discovered).
With a new formation and a renewed sense of purpose, the Titans opened the three-game series against the first-place Ridgway Demons.
The Titans dominated the opening 20 minutes of the game with a quick passing attack searching for seams in the notoriously stout Demon defense.
The effort paid off as junior Henry Linehan found senior Jenner Currier open at the top of the penalty area, and Currier blasted a shot to the far corner for a 1-0 Titans lead.
Ridgway regrouped to mount a couple of counter-attacks but the Titans defense held off to keep the one-goal advantage heading into halftime.
The Demons tied the game in the 54th minute on a scramble in front of the Titans net, and despite the efforts of Crested Butte, hitting the post twice, the teams closed with a 1-1 tie.
Crested Butte came out the following day against the Bayfield Wolverines, sluggish but direct. While their pace was slow, their passes were true, offering up numerous chances on goal.
Unfortunately, the final strike was missing as Crested Butte shooters missed the mark on several occasions.
Freshman Graham Koval had seen enough and after offering up several potential assists, he opted to take the ball to net himself and slipped it past the Bayfield goalie on the near post in the 19th minute.
Ten minutes later, sophomores Ben Reaman and Collin Dill connected as Dill found Reaman alone inside the six-yard box with a pass and Reaman banged it home, to give Crested Butte a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Koval netted his second goal of the day, converting a penalty kick in the 67th minute, Dill recorded his second assist of the afternoon feeding Currier for a fourth Crested Butte goal and Reaman took a pass from freshman Jesse Reeves to score his second goal of the day, capping the 5-0 Titans win.
That left the Pagosa Springs Pirates for the Titans at the end of the three-game run. Pagosa Springs possesses an explosive counterattack and are known throughout the league for playing 80 minutes of soccer at full throttle.
The Titans looked to knock the Pirates off their game early, as senior Connor McGuire took the ball and found junior Sam Evans open in the midfield. Evans settled the ball, slipped it back to McGuire on the run, and McGuire fired from the 18-yard mark to put the Titans up 1-0.
Pagosa threatened to equalize, regaining control of the midfield with pure hustle, but the Titans defense bailed their team out, blocking shots and clearing the ball out of danger.
As the first half drew to a close, the Titans mounted one last attack and Evans found Koval for Crested Butte’s second strike and a 2-0 lead at the half.
A defensive miscue in the opening minutes of the second half offered the Pirates their first goal of the game, and three minutes later they tied the game 2-2 on a head ball goal sending the Titans reeling back on their heels.
The Titans quickly recovered as Currier fed Koval inside the Pirates’ penalty area and Koval pushed his shot through traffic to the bottom corner to put Crested Butte back on top 3-2.
But the Pirates never, and I mean never, give up and they kept hammering away at the Titans net. That left junior Titans goalie Ben Frame in charge and Frame stepped up with numerous brilliant saves to hold on to the one-goal lead, sealing the Titans 3-2 win.
Crested Butte closes the regular season with two games on the road as they take on Telluride and Center. If they win both, they then must wait to see how the end of the season pans out for the other teams before they find out if they make a return to the state tournament.

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