TELLURIDE – Telluride’s High School boys’ soccer team gave hometown spectators something to cheer about this weekend, as the crew stuck it to rivals Pagosa Springs and Bayfield in their first home games of the 2008 season.
Coach Ryan Kusuno said the two victories would help solidify the team’s winning resolve as they head into the heart of the fall soccer season.
“It’s always good to post the first couple of wins to build confidence,” he said, noting that in the early season the team frequently scrimmaged against teams from larger schools. “It’s hard to gauge how strong your team will be against other teams in the league when you’re losing a lot to bigger schools.”
While the weekend games helped the team develop more poise on the pitch, Kusuno said the matches also helped the boys realize they still have some growing to do – especially if the team wants to stretch its season to the State playoffs in mid-October.
Telluride won both Friday and Saturday matches by small margins, 4-3 on Friday against Pagosa and 3-2 on Saturday against Bayfield. In both games, Telluride dominated in the first half, but started the second half slow. Telluride’s second period sluggishness is a trend Kusuno said he hopes to end before the team meets Ridgway on home turf this Tuesday.
On Saturday, Telluride maintained possession against the Bayfield Wolverines throughout the first half, allowing no goals and heading into halftime one goal ahead thanks to a Mike Matthews goal assisted by T.J. Tassone. The second half highlighted strong play from center midfielder Raul Toledo, who helped set up the passing progression that led to Telluride’s second goal, scored again by Matthews.
Tassone kept the Telluride fire stoked when, only minutes after Matthews’s second goal, the Miners were awarded a penalty kick. Tassone’s rocket of a shot from the midfield line floated effortlessly past Bayfield’s keeper into the upper right corner to give Telluride the 3-0 advantage.
Bayfield’s Jamie Tinnin fought back, beating Telluride’s defense and knocking in his team’s first goal of the day. Telluride defenders Victor Major and Lobo James took note, sticking to Tinnin and blocking Bayfield teammate Hugo Toral’s access to him. But their efforts weren’t enough against the sure-footed Tinnin-Toral twosome and Tinnin managed to knock another goal back to put the game at a close 3-2.
The tide turned against Telluride following Bayfield’s second goal. The Wolverines were dogged in their pressure, at one point forcing defenseman Carl Schroedl to protect Telluride’s net when goalminder Chris Phillins was drawn out by a fast Bayfield breakaway.
The Miners were dealt another potentially debilitating blow when the Wolverines were awarded a free kick following a penalty call in the box. Bayfield’s Tim Manzer stepped up to the challenge, and aside from a few shouts of reassurance for Telluride keeper Phillins, the hometown crowd was silent as Manzer wound up for the potentially game-tying goal. The shot was wide, though, and Telluride emerged from the penalty call unscathed.
Minutes later the referee’s game ending whistle nailed Telluride’s victory into the record books.
Friday’s four Telluride goals were scored by Mike Matthews and Carl Schroedl, both assisted by Josh Zieve; Morgan Pihl, assisted by Greg Hope; and an unassisted Tassone.
The Miners are now 2-1 in league play, and will meet the Ridgway Demons at home Tuesday in the hopes of adding another W to their record. “Ridgway will be a good test for us, they have a strong team this year,” said Kusuno.
The Miners will then take their game on the road for the next two weekends, playing Center in a doubleheader in Pagosa Springs on Sept. 20, and playing back-to-back away games against Bayfield and Pagosa Springs on Sept. 26 and 27.
THS soccer action will return to Telluride Tuesday, Sept. 30 when they play Crested Butte, and again on Thursday, Oct. 2 when they face off against Montrose’s Junior Varsity squad.