Titans soccer takes down Telluride 3-1

“We were able to score in both halves which was super positive” 

By Than Acuff 

The Crested Butte Titans girls soccer team got back on the winning track taking down the Telluride Miners 3-1 in their first league game of the season on Friday, March 22 at Katy O. Rady Field on the Western Colorado University campus.

In their previous game, where they fell to Delta, they got a bit of a wakeup call and the Titans coaching staff and players got right to work to building on lessons learned from that loss as they prepared for Telluride.

“We learned to focus on the midfield better and get our wingers to work back more on defense and that helped a lot against Telluride,” says head coach Tom Lewis.

The Miners have always been a tough challenge for the Titans and the two teams split their games last year each taking one win. While the rivalry is there and the energy of the match-up can be distracting, the coaches made a conscious effort to not make too much of the match.

“We tried to keep it as low key as possible as we tend to get emotional in games with Telluride,” says Lewis. “We told the team it doesn’t matter who’s in front of us, we just have to get the job done.”

The Titans took immediate control of the match in the opening minutes using their speed advantage on the flanks to create opportunities. While their first series of shots missed the mark and the Miner goalie keeper came up with a couple saves, the Titans finally broke the seal 22 minutes into the game.

A short goal kick by Crested Butte opened the middle for a pass to Leigh Harpel. Harpel turned up field and slotted a pass to Molly Miller and Miller slipped her shot past the Miner keeper for a 1-0 lead.

Titan defender Rio Crabtree thwarted the Miners’ attempts to penetrate up the middle with Dakota Redden pinching in from the flank to assist and midfielder Nora Thomes disrupting the Miner midfield with strong tackles keeping Telluride off balance.

Meanwhile, Crested Butte continued to look to Calla Fenlon and Brie Polster on the flanks for success with the only thing holding them back being a lack of finishing. Two more missed opportunities kept the game to one goal until the final five minutes of the first half when Harpel seized on a miscue by the Telluride back line to collect a loose ball and fire it past the keeper for a 2-0 Titans’ lead at halftime.

“We did a good job creating opportunities on goal but struggled finishing,” says senior captain Harpel. “We talked at halftime about getting our crosses to land at the top of the 18 for midfielders to finish away from the keepers’ hands.” 

“We just lacked a little bit of composure when we had chances,” adds Lewis. “I thought our defense played amazing in minimizing Telluride’s chances.”

Crested Butte continued their attacking ways to open the second half creating three more great looks on net only to have them fly wide or straight to the keeper.

While Telluride’s chances were limited, they eventually took advantage of a corner kick 68 minutes into the game to score and pull within one of the Titans.

“In the past when the other team scores we got into a five-minute panic, but we put Nora and Molly back in and I thought the girls reacted well,” says Lewis.

That proved to just be a small hiccup in the Titans’ overall effort though. With Miller and Thomes back on the field, Crested Butte returned to their combination of pressure, possession and pace to open additional opportunities. The difference came when Thomes won a battle for a 50/50 ball in the Miners’ defensive third and drove her shot to the low corner for a 3-1 Titans’ lead that would remain until the final whistle. 

“I am happy with the final result,” says Harpel. “They started playing a lot more physical, so we had to adjust our game to combat against that. We were able to score in both halves which was super positive. Next time we play Telluride we hope to hold them to zero goals.”

The Titans’ next few games will have a different feel. They start with a match against the typically strong Salida Spartans and then a match with Ignacio. They then head to Colorado Springs on Saturday, April 6 to take on the defending 2A state champions, Colorado Springs Christian.

“Salida will be tough,” says Lewis. “It’s a good game against a good 3A team to see where we are at. When we play Ignacio we’re going to try some things out that we may need later in the season.”

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