Girls soccer splits games over past week

Home game Friday, May 3 at 4 p.m.

 [  by Than Acuff  ]

The April break and long bus ride did not seem to slow down the Crested Butte Titans girls soccer team as they cruised to a 6-0 win over the Telluride Miners on Wednesday, April 24. But that same late bus ride home and April break may have had an effect on the team the very next day as they fell at home to the Durango Demons 3-1.

With the bridge over Blue Mesa out, the Titans’ game in Telluride was moved to Bayfield, and with just two practices leading up to the game following the April break, coach Tom Lewis admits he wasn’t quite sure what he would see from his players in the league match up.

“I was expecting some sluggishness and maybe some adjusting to the altitude after a lot of the girls spent the previous week on a beach,” says Lewis.

While Lewis admits play by the Titans was “a little messy” to start out, they soon fell into their groove and 26 minutes into the game Leigh Harpel took a pass from Nora Thomes and broke through the Miners’ back line to score.

That led to three more goals from the Titans in the final 14 minutes of the first half as Calla Fenlon assisted Brie Polster for the Titans’ next goal, Harpel struck again off another assist from Thomes and Fenlon and Polster connected again as well for a 4-0 lead at halftime.

Crested Butte remained on the front foot in the second half to tally two more goals as Harpel scored her third of the game and Molly Miller tacked on a goal for the 6-0 shutout win. The win also secured the league title for the Titans.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” says Lewis. “They looked like they came back from the break refreshed and re-energized.”

“We came out aiming to score a lot of goals,” adds Harpel. “We wanted to score as many goals as possible to prepare for our tough Durango game the next day.”

After returning home at 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning, the team returned to play Thursday afternoon to host the Demons. Durango is a stout 4A team ranked fourth in the state and would provide the Titans a much-needed challenge after rolling to three straight easy wins leading up to the game.

“We expected Durango to be a really tough and physical game but knew we could be in the game if we played our best,” says Harpel.

 The Titans played their best for the first half of the game and scored first when Harpel found the back of the net off an assist from Miller. Crested Butte continued to battle with Durango matching the Demons’ physicality and remaining composed defensively. The Demons eventually tied up the game, but the Titans were on point and up for the challenge the entire first half.

“The first half everyone on the team played really well,” says Harpel. “Despite our late night the night before, all of our passes were crisp, our team was moving as one and everyone was in the game. We wanted to prove we could beat a 4A school which we did in the first half.”

“That early goal energized everyone and everyone was working together,” says Lewis. “It was truly special to see.”

Durango adjusted at halftime and that, coupled with the late return the night before from the Telluride game, soon led to trouble for Crested Butte. Increased ball pressure handcuffed the Titans and the Demons scored two goals in the second half to eventually take down the Titans 3-1.

“In the second half Durango came out pressing really high which made it difficult to get the ball out of our half,” says Harpel. “We had to defend constantly and eventually they broke us down. Durango came out second half with a new game plan and were able to implement it leading to their win.”

The Titans are now 10-2-1 and close out the regular season at home when they host the Pagosa Springs Pirates on Friday, May 3 at 4 p.m. and then Ignacio on Saturday at 11 a.m. They look to finish with two more wins and set themselves up for one of the top four seeds in the state tournament. If they finish top four, they will host the first two rounds of the 2A state tournament.

“If one of the current top four teams loses, it might open a door for us,” says Lewis. “But, whatever happens, we’ll just play whoever is in front of us.”

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