“It makes me proud as a coach”
By Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans lacrosse team extended their winning streak to four games handing the Durango Demons a 13-2 defeat on Tuesday, April 11. The win improved their overall record to 4-3, 3-2 in league play, as they head into the April Break.
The Titans faced the Demons just two weeks prior and battled their way to a 6-4 win, but there was little Durango could do to slow down the Titans in their second meeting.
“It’s where we are capable of playing,” says coach Buck Seling. “It was the first game where we played to our abilities.”
Crested Butte wanted to jump out fast on Durango as the Demons were coming off a long bus ride, and 50 seconds into the game, they did just that as Fraser Birnie assisted Blue Gardner on the opening strike.
The Demons rattled off the next two goals to go up 2-1 midway through the first quarter, but Crested Butte stepped up the pace following the second Demon goal to score the next three. Riley Davis started it off carrying the ball around behind the Demon cage and fired a low angle shot past the Durango goalie.
Forty seconds later, the Titans struck again as Jack Pierson took a pass from Brendan Hartigan and blew by two Demon players to score, followed by a foul for a man up situation for the Titans. They didn’t connect in that first man up opportunity, but minutes later, Crested Butte connected during another man up situation when Luke Walton fired a shot off another assist from Hartigan to put the Titans up 4-2 by the end of the first quarter.
“I thought our extra man looked better,” says Seling.
Crested Butte carried their momentum into the second quarter scoring three unanswered goals in the first two minutes. Birnie won the opening faceoff, sprinted straight to goal to draw a defenseman and then slipped the ball to Ace Gaither for a goal. Thirty seconds later, Hartigan slipped past his man to force another defensive slide and dished it off to Pierson for Pierson’s second goal. And as Birnie continued to win faceoffs, the Titans continued to get chances as Hartigan capped the three-goal outburst barreling past his opponent to switch hands and score.
An errant pass from Gaither to a cutter in front of the crease slipped past the Demon goalie for an 8-2 lead and Hartigan finished off the second quarter with a second goal to put the Titans up 9-2 at halftime.
“We were winning faceoffs so that was key,” says Seling.
Crested Butte eventually let off the throttle some in the second half. Gaither scored in the first minute of the third quarter and Seling started getting more players varsity time. Even with new lineups, the Titans remained in control, anchored by their defensemen and stayed patient on offense.
Titans goalie Gavin Fischer came up with a point blank save early in the fourth quarter and Gardner scored off an assist from Gaither three minutes later. The Titans finished the game off with two near perfect goals.
The first one came when Jordan Silva sprinted up field with the ball to find Walton open. The defense slid to pick up Walton and he fired a pass to Gaither cutting across the top of the crease and Gaither slipped it past the Demon goalie.
A minute later, Birnie won another faceoff and, instead of dishing it off, fired a shot past the unsuspecting goalie to cap the 13-2 Titans’ win.
“I think we came out to play and played well,” says Seling. “Everyone was doing things we’ve been teaching them. It makes me proud as a coach.”
Birnie finished the game winning 13 of 15 faceoffs, while Gaither led the team in scoring with four goals and two assists. Hartigan tallied two goals and four assists, Gardner scored two while Birnie, Davis and Walton had one goal apiece.
“We had nine assists on 13 goals, that’s what you want to see as a coach,” says Seling.
The Titans now take a break from workouts as most of the players leave town for their April Break. When they get back, they have a stout week ahead of them with four games in that first week after break, including games against the top two teams in their league.
“It’s going to be crazy, that’s a lot but it is what it is,” says Seling. “If we play like we played against Durango against these other teams, we have a chance to do well.”