Telluride suffered a disappointing loss on home turf on Tuesday, falling to a fired-up Crested Butte Titans squad 2-1. It was their first loss in league play.
It proved a poignant one for the Miners, who had steadily climbed the regional rankings and enjoyed the view from the top for a spell. Now Alamosa has inched ahead in the seven-team 3A Region 5 rankings, putting Telluride in the second spot ahead of No. 3 Crested Butte.
Earlier in the season, Crested Butte gave Telluride one of its toughest matches – but it was also one of Telluride’s best performances, with the boys hanging tough to post a 1-1 tie. Tuesday proved a different scenario, however.
The Titans struck early, knocking a goal into the net in the first half and putting the Miners on the defensive. The halftime break offered the home team just the boost they needed, however, with Junior Slator Aplin taking the ball upfield on a breakaway in the first minute of the second half and hammering a left-footer past the keeper to put the score back at even.
The Miners, a team known for its controlled passing game, won the possession battle for the remainder of the period. But the Titans were more aggressive, consistently roughing up Telluride players and often facing the consequences with a flurry of free kicks given in Telluride’s favor.
The Miners never could capitalize on their numerous opportunities, however; a failure that ultimately cost the team their undefeated record, coach Mick Hill said.
“They were the more aggressive team,” Hill said of the Titans, “and though it pains me to say it, they deserved the win. We had plenty of opportunities in free kicks, we just didn’t make them count.”
Miners Guido Xavier, Willy Hess, Keith Hill, and Henry Sosa offered their team glimmers of hope, but to no avail. The Titans waited patiently for their opportunity to strike, which came mid-way through the final half. A momentary lapse in judgment on the part of Telluride’s defense left the goal undefended, when players wrongly assumed the ball had been called out-of-bounds. A fast-footed Crested Butte player dribbled past Telluride’s unknowing defense, and although the Miners recovered, it wasn’t quickly enough. Miner goalie Brendan Kelley had kept his team mostly out of trouble with a series of diving saves earlier in the match, but this Titan attack proved too potent.
The score remained static at 2-1 for the rest of the match, and Hill says the loss will make it more difficult for Telluride to win home field advantage for the upcoming first round of the State Tournament, which begins next Wednesday. Seeding for the tournament will be announced on Sunday. Telluride has one last opportunity to improve its record today (Thursday, Oct. 20), when the Miners travel to Grand Junction to face that high school’s junior varsity.