Titans girls soccer opens season with big wins

First home game Friday, March 15 at 6 p.m. on the turf

By Than Acuff 

With weather the way it’s been during preseason training for the Crested Butte Titans girls soccer team, head coach Tom Lewis really had no idea what to expect for their first two matches of the season against Aspen and Basalt on Friday and Saturday, March 8-9. In the end, it appeared no matter what the weather had done, or does, there’s no slowing down the Titans as they won both matches easily against traditionally strong programs.

“It was amazing, unexpected actually,” says Lewis.

The Titans are flush with talent this year between returning veterans and a massive influx of freshmen giving the coaching staff a lot to work with as they prepare for matches. On Friday, the coaches went with a mix of upperclassmen and three freshmen to start against the Aspen Skiers, and the Titans struck early as Molly Miller poked in a loose ball off a corner from Leigh Harpel five minutes into the game.

Both Aspen and Crested Butte committed to a possession-based style of play, but the Titan midfielders tied the Skiers’ midfielders up leaving them little room to find success up the field.

“We were pressing like a team possessed,” says Lewis. “We didn’t give Aspen a minute.”

Meanwhile, after several attempts by Nora Thomes and Harpel to work straight up the middle, they started to look wide and the move paid off in the final five minutes of the first half as Hadley Blaisdell got a pass wide and sent her shot from 20-yards out over the Skiers’ keeper for a 2-0 Titans’ lead at halftime.

Rather than rest on their two-goal lead, Crested Butte discussed, adjusted and stepped it up to open the second half. Their slight adjustments had an immediate impact as Calla Fenlon dished the ball to Harpel just outside the 18-yard box and Harpel smashed it home for a 3-0 lead five minutes into the second half. Five minutes later Thomes set up Fenlon and Fenlon scored to put Crested Butte up 4-0.

“Something we noticed in the fall season is this group is smart and a second half team,” says Lewis. “They were able to go out there and adjust and get two goals pretty quick.”

The Titans remained on the throttle the entire game and played a majority of the second half in Aspen’s half using their deep bench to outpace Aspen down the stretch to seal the 4-0 win.

“Three freshmen started the game and we finished with eight freshmen on the field,” says Lewis. “It’s a talented squad overall.”

Crested Butte then returned to the field Saturday, March 9 to face the Basalt Longhorns. Basalt struck first on a set piece from distance and played a high defensive line to cause the Titans some fits and a lot of offsides calls.

“They had a high line which left no space for our midfield,” says Lewis.

Crested Butte remained composed though and Thomes set up Fenlon for Crested Butte’s first goal and Harpel then slipped a pass through to Miller for a second Titans’ goal and a 2-1 lead at halftime.

Once again, Crested Butte adjusted at halftime to create more space for the midfield and the changes resulted in five unanswered goals from the Titans as Harpel scored two and assisted three, Miller scored two more and Thomes tallied a goal as well for the 7-1 win.

“Aspen and Basalt have been quality programs the past two years and they didn’t seem any different this year, we just seemed a level above,” says Lewis. “The depth we have is great and it showed over the weekend.”

Crested Butte has their first home game of the season on Friday, March 15, when they host Delta on the Western turf field at 6 p.m. They return to the road on Saturday when they head to the Front Range to take on the defending 2A state champions, Colorado Springs Christian.

“This weekend will be a good test to see where we are as a program,” says Lewis.

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