Titans fall to Telluride in Homecoming showdown

Sluggish play leads to loss

by Than Acuff

The Crested Butte Titans soccer team fell to the Telluride Miners 5-3 at the annual Titans Homecoming game on Friday, September 25 at Rainbow Field.

It’s a long-standing rivalry between the two teams and for the second year in a row, the Miners got the best of the Titans.

The loss came down to a couple of things. For starters, after an explosive opening 15 minutes from the Titans, complacency set in. Secondly, that complacency led to an overall sluggishness that soon transformed into full-on panic. And, finally, Telluride’s pressure led to an overall disjointed effort from the Titans all game long.

photo by Lydia Stern
photo by Lydia Stern

The Titans capitalized on the hometown energy in the opening 15 minutes, building a quick 2-0 lead. They struck when a quick switch of attack found Justin Smith open on the weak side. Smith penetrated the penalty area and then slipped the ball across to Axel Deer, who buried his shot in the side netting for a 1-0 lead.

Ten minutes later the Titans struck again as Smith drove a direct kick on net that popped loose off the Miner goalie and Deer followed to tap in the rebound for a 2-0 Titans lead.

But Telluride shook off their bus ride and picked up their play midway through the half to break the seal on the Titans’ net. With momentum swinging in the Miners’ favor, the Titans found a brief reprieve as another switch of attack found Cam Curtiss open on the weak side. Curtiss settled the ball with a couple touches to set up his blast into the upper corner and put the Titans back on top by two goals.

“Their play itself wasn’t great but they executed what we’ve been coaching them,” says coach Ben Davis.

Then the wheels officially fell off the Titans’ train for the remainder of the game as the Miners’ pressure and attack netted two more goals before halftime to send the teams into the midway break notched in a 3-3 tie.

“We went up early and then just let go of the gas,” says Davis. “We stopped hustling and our positioning on defense fell apart. We talked about their lack of hustle and missed passes at halftime, and they saw it as well. The first three goals were just total team implosion.”

Panic and erratic play continued to plague the Titans in the second half as Telluride’s intensity took over the game completely. The Titans continued to give up possession and hit long passes to no one in particular as the Miners dominated the midfield and pressed down the middle toward the Titans’ net.

Telluride’s efforts paid off two more times as the Miners built a 5-3 lead with 15 minutes remaining in the game and the Titans never recovered, failing to find their game of soccer and instead looking for hope with long passes that were easily turned away by Telluride’s defense.

“Our defense pulled it together a little bit but the team just wasn’t hustling,” says Davis. “Telluride had numbers pushing forward and hustle on us.”

Davis feels the Telluride debacle was just a bump in the Titans’ road to better soccer and the coaches look to get the team back on track as they head into the next week of play.

“Step one is forgetting about that game,” says Davis. “They’ve been getting better but fell apart in that game and they know what went wrong. Not only do the coaches know what to do, the players know what to do as well.”

The Titans hit the road for three games this week and the pressure is on as they look to get back to their winning ways when they face Alamosa on Tuesday, September 29 and then Pagosa Springs and Bayfield on Friday and Saturday, October 2-3.

“Alamosa is always a challenge but we know what to expect from them,” says Davis. “Pagosa is going to be the game of the year. It’ll be under the lights and they’re undefeated.”

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