Post season begins next week
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans girls soccer team finished out regular season play last week with three wins and one loss and now must wait a week before they find out their post-season fate as other teams still have games to play. As of press time they are ranked fourth in the state and should make the playoffs, but who they play remains in question. If they remain in the top four at season’s end, they will host the first round of the tournament at the Western turf field on Saturday, June 19.
The Titans opened the week with a doubleheader in Ridgway on Tuesday, June 1 and finished with back-to-back wins taking the Ridgway Demons down 3-1 and 3-0. It was a unique situation as the Demons cancelled the first game of the season forcing a unique doubleheader format with shorter games. Despite the new format, the Titans’ usual game plan remained in place.
“We always try to score in the first 10 minutes and in these games especially since they were shorter games,” says senior captain Sophia Truex.
In addition, Kidd and her team are currently in a bit of a quandary with eight seniors on the team having already graduated and questions on whether to continue playing or head into summer mode continued but Crested Butte had a full squad for both games.
Crested Butte was all tied up with Ridgway 1-1 on a goal from Olivia Wilson after the first half of the first game but goals from Havelin Haskell and Ellie O’Neal in the second half sealed the win for the Titans. They followed that with a 3-0 shutout in the second game with goals from Hazie McNellis, Morgan Feltus and O’Neal to remain in the hunt for the league title.
“It was definitely more competitive than a lot of our other games,” says Truex. “We all gave it everything we had and that’s what we always ask of each other. It was good to have more play time with more competition.”
The league title, and an automatic bid to the 2A state tournament, then came down to their final home game of the season when they hosted the Telluride Miners on Friday, June 4. Telluride handed the Titans a 3-1 loss earlier in the season and had remained unbeaten through league play. And with Crested Butte’s only league loss coming at the hands of Telluride, a win by the Titans could steal the league title away from the Miners.
Telluride had the upper hand through the opening 20 minutes and took a 1-0 lead four minutes into the game paced by their speed advantage and quickness to the ball.
Once the game settled down, the Titans started to click a little better and press into the attacking third. The effort of Leigh Harpel and O’Neal would ultimately bear fruit as Harpel’s work led to a ball over the top to O’Neal. O’Neal and the Telluride goalie collided going for the ball and McNellis followed to chip it over the goalie and send the teams into halftime tied 1-1.
“Being tied at halftime really fueled us and I think it was a good start,” says Truex.
The Titans took control of the game for the first 20 minutes of the second half with the Titan midfield closing off all passes up top to Telluride’s speedy strikers, Crested Butte pressed the Miners back into their own half.
The Titans seized on the surge in the 65th minute when a throw in slipped through to Harpel at the top of the 18-yard box and she sliced her way to net to finish giving the Titans a 2-1 lead.
“We started to get our groove on and we just had the momentum,” says Truex. “And, we were also having fun and working together and needed the win.”
Continued pressure offered up a couple other chances but Telluride held the Titans off and ultimately found some looks to their strikers. The speed advantage of Telluride would spell the demise of Crested Butte as the Miners converted on three successive quick counter attacks to rattle off three goals and hand the Titans a 4-2 loss.
“It was tough,” says Truex. “They had really fast girls up top and they just slipped through.”
Crested Butte closed out the regular season the following day on the road rolling to a 9-0 win over Ignacio with Harpel and O’Neal each recording a hat trick, Feltus scoring two and Maddie Bogard adding in one goal.
The rest of the state has games this week while the Titans take a short break and then return to workouts, including two sessions per day to work around players’ work schedules, to prepare for the state tournament starting next week. They will lose some more players prior to the tournament but remain focused on making another post season run.
“The majority of the team is still here and we’re going to make the most of it,” says Truex. “We’ve got a lot of camaraderie that can carry us through.”