Titans soccer closes week on high note

Girls take league title

By Than Acuff

The Crested Butte Titans girls soccer team shook off back-to-back losses last week to finish a three-game stretch with a win over the Ridgway Demons securing the Intermountain South league title. They look to finish out the regular season this week with two more wins and then turn their focus to the 2A state tournament starting on Friday, May 12.

The rollercoaster week started with a couple of practices, including yet another one in the snow, before lining up on Wednesday, April 26 when the Titans hosted league opponent Telluride in Gunnison. 

Crested Butte came out strong but as the first half wore on, the Titans wore out and Telluride scored to take a 1-0 lead into halftime.

“The first 35 minutes were great,” says coach Heather Culley. “Then we seemed to get tired and stopped playing through the middle.”

The Titans remained sluggish in the second half and were handed a blow when starting goalkeeper Mara Pennie had to leave the game with an injury. 

“We kind of got deflated from there,” says Culley.

Bryce Haskell jumped into net and stepped up to the challenge, but Telluride poked another goal in as the final horn sounded for their 2-0 win over the Titans.

The Titans hit the road the following day for a non-league match against Summit, but injury and illness continued to hamper the Crested Butte squad. Summit built a 2-0 lead in the first half and then held onto that lead to hand the Titans their second loss in a row.

“We turned it around in the second half, but we were still fatigued,” says Culley. “I think if we were healthy and fresh, it would have been a different game.”

Down but not out, the Titans then returned home to host the Ridgway Demons in Gunnison on Saturday, April 29. While Ridgway forfeited their match with Crested Butte earlier in the season, Culley knew the Demons could prove to be a tough opponent.

“They were coming off a win over Telluride and we knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park,” says Culley.

Having shaken off their last two losses, the Titans went to work against Ridgway dominating possession and firing off numerous shots. Unfortunately, the shots either missed their mark or were turned away by the Demons keeper and Ridgway scored to go up 1-0 by halftime.

“We were missing the goal by feet, but we were in control of the game the whole time,” says Culley.

Then, with senior recognition being part of the afternoon’s activities, Culley turned to her senior crew to start out the second half and Taylor Zurmuhlen made the most of her varsity minutes to score off a corner kick in the first five minutes of the half to tie the game.

The game then turned into a grind, but the Titans continued firing shots only to be denied. They were then hit with another tough injury as Haskell had to leave the game with 15 minutes left and Culley called on Nicola Roberts to get in goal with the game tied 1-1 and a league title on the line.

“She hadn’t played goalie since early on in u15,” says Culley. “The game got more physical and we just tried to keep the ball away from Nicola.”

 The break in the deadlock came with three minutes left in regulation when Ellie O’Neal found some room to fire a shot and score, and the Titans held on for the 2-1 win. 

They have two more games in the regular season as they head to play Pagosa Springs on Friday, May 5 and then Ignacio on Saturday, May 6. The win over Ridgway moved the Titans up to anywhere from the ninth to 11th in the 2A rankings, depending on which poll you look at, and all but secured their spot in the post season.

“I think the win over Ridgway definitely helped because now they know the season’s not over,” says Culley. “I think we’re doing good mentally and are ready for this weekend.”

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