Enter the #9 seed
By Than Acuff
After falling in the 2A state final last year, the Crested Butte Titans girls soccer team is back in the mix again this year and enters the post-season as the ninth seed with their first round game on Friday, May 12. For those of you keeping track, it’s the fifth trip in a row to the post-season for Crested Butte.
The Titans closed the regular season winning their last two games to finish 9-6 overall, winning the league title with a record of 5-1. The final weekend of play was a soft finish for the Titans as they had a non-league match against a struggling Pagosa Springs team on Friday, May 5, and stayed in the southwest corner of the state to face Ignacio on Saturday, May 6.
“We knew our last two games wouldn’t be strong but it was good so we could rest some starters dealing with injuries,” says coach Heather Culley. “It also helped us see a couple more girls play against some bigger varsity opponents.”
Hopefully, that time and rest will help out the Titans in net as they lost both starter Mara Pennie and back up Bryce Haskel to injuries two weeks ago. But with opponents such as Pagosa Springs and Ignacio on the docket, it allowed field player-turned- goalkeeper Nicola Roberts two more opportunities to get minutes in net and gave the team additional opportunities to work on her role as part of their game strategy, as the Titans like to play the ball back to their keeper to maintain possession.
“We used Nicola’s feet in the game against Pagosa,” says Culley.
Crested Butte built a 3-0 lead by halftime against Pagosa Springs and muddled their way through the first 25 minutes of the second half before ramping up the pace to rattle off three more goals in the final 10 minutes to win 6-0. Molly Miller scored three for Crested Butte while Ellie O’Neal, Morgan Feltus and Leigh Harpel scored one goal each.
“We started off real sluggish and played the first 50 minutes of the game slow,” says Culley.
The team retired to their overnight accommodations and woke up the next day to face league opponent Ignacio, a team they beat earlier in the season 10-0, scoring nine of those goals in the first half.
Having traveled so far for the two games, the Titans remained focused on fine-tuning their play in preparation for the state tournament.
“We wanted to work on getting our outside backs to make runs and for the centermids to use them,” explains Culley.
The other directive—making sure not to score 10 goals so as to cause the game to be called early by officials based on the “mercy rule.”
The Titans may have lost sight of the latter of their two directives for the game as they scored 15 seconds into the game. But they settled into their play for the remainder of the match rolling to a 9-0 win and playing a full 80 minutes of soccer. Paloma Lamar led the team with four goals with solo strikes coming from Jacey Deroche, Harpel, Miller, O’Neal and Feltus.
“We got to play a bunch of girls who don’t normally get a lot of varsity playing time,” says Culley.
The Titans are now preparing for their first state tournament game against Windsor Charter Academy on Friday, May 12 at 4:30 p.m. Windsor Charter closed out the season with a record of 10-3 and is the eighth seed in the 2A tournament.
“I think it’s a winnable game if we show up and play our game,” says Culley. “We need our first touch to be more controlled and play out wide to get crosses in.”
A win there will send the Titans to the quarterfinals at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, where they will most likely face the top-seeded team in 2A, Skyview Academy. Both games are being hosted by Skyview Academy in Highlands Ranch.
Last year the Titans entered the post-season ranked 10th and knocked off both the second and third seeded teams enroute to the state final.
“I think we’re sitting pretty good,” says Culley.