Butte Kickers fall in semifinal showdown in Telluride tourney

Piccaro, Acuff and Koepe come out of retirement

Telluride has hosted some form of an adult soccer tournament for the past 25 years, and for most of those years, if not all, Crested Butte has put together some form of a team to compete.
This year, with the tournament one week away, things were looking dubious to say the least and Crested Butte’s streak was in peril.
One thing was for sure, Brian Fenerty would be there. It would be his 25th trip to the tournament and nothing was going to end that.
As the tournament date drew near, a call went out to the greater soccer community in the Gunnison Valley.
Chris Koepe just rolled back in to town and was in. Bob Piccaro hadn’t been on the field in years but was in. And the last time Than Acuff suited up was last year in Telluride when he proceeded to pull his hamstring in the first game and finish his comeback bid playing in net.
Nevertheless, they were in.
As for the local women, Molly Keating was fresh out of a cast for a broken wrist but willing to take over in net. Lauren Alkire jumped in without hesitation as well and Heather Duryea, one of the most prolific scorers in the history of Crested Butte coed soccer, answered the call.
But that’s only six and the game of soccer, for those of you that don’t know, calls for 11 players on the field.
That’s when the troops were hailed from out of town. Beda Calhoun, who has done some time with the Crested Butte squad, was contacted. Calhoun then pulled in Sara Hagopian, Andrea Korber and Chris Sellers from Carbondale and Connor Bottomly from Telluride.
Saturday morning, the 12 or so players went through a quick meet and greet before taking the field for their first match of the tournament against Glenwood Springs.
The Crested Butte team took 20 minutes of the first half to find out exactly how everything would work. Fortunately, with Koepe, Korber and Sellers anchoring the defense and Keating in net, they had plenty of time to pull it together.
Twenty-five minutes in, Piccaro set up inside the 18-yard box to receive a pass and flicked it through to Duryea, who punched it past the Glenwood keeper for a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
Ten minutes into the second half, Crested Butte took a 2-0 lead when Koepe blasted a direct kick over the wall from 20 yards out.
Five minutes later, Koepe struck again as Duryea took a long diagonal pass from Bottomly to the endline and dropped it back to Koepe for a low blast and a 3-0 Crested Butte lead.
Glenwood took advantage of some Crested Butte confusion to find the back of the net but Crested Butte responded 10 minutes later as Bottomly drove a shot from 30 yards out over the Glenwood keeper. Bottomly sealed the win minutes later taking a pass from Piccaro and carrying the ball through the Glenwood defense for his second strike of the game and a 5-1 Crested Butte win.
Crested Butte hit a wall their second game of the day though, as they took on one of two Telluride teams at the tournament.
They called in Titan Cal Fenerty to join the squad and Haywood Jablomy, another walk-on player from Telluride, but could do nothing to slow down the high-powered Telluride squad, falling 5-0.
Despite the drubbing, Crested Butte earned enough points to take second in their division and advance to the semifinals on Sunday morning.
Unfortunately, they would draw another Telluride team who won the other division with two big wins on Saturday.
Alkire was solid in the middle on defense and the back four were intact for Crested Butte, but the team struggled to get things working on offense against a stout Telluride team.
Hagopian and Calhoun were tough at the midfield and both Fenerty’s dominated the air in the middle but the final third of the field proved troublesome.
Telluride scored in the 16th minute and held their 1-0 lead the rest of the game to squeak through the finals and send Crested Butte home one game shy of the finals once again.

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