TELLURIDE – Two local teams were pitted against each other in the finals of the 2010 Telluride Invitational Co-Ed Soccer Tournament last weekend, after both High Mark and Brown Dog beat out visiting teams in their respective pools to meet in the Championship match on Sunday.
High Mark ultimately emerged from the match with the 2-1 sudden death overtime victory, claiming their third title in four years.
Brown Dog came into the final having scored six goals in pool play. What’s more impressive, however, is that Brown Dog goalkeeper Eric Corff, with a strong team in front of him, did not allow one goal scored against his team in pool play.
High Mark, meanwhile, recorded seven goals scored and two goals scored against them in their pool play.
It soon became obvious that fatigue would be a factor in the final. After a scoreless first half, High Mark struck first. A good combination of midfield and forward play led to flawless finish by Matt Mitchell for a 1-0 lead. “When it’s 0-0 going into the second half, that first goal becomes crucial,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes teams get few chances to score in a game and I am happy that I was able to capitalize and give my team the lead.”
Brown Dog proved the phrase ‘No lead is a safe lead’ correct when, with only four minutes left in regulation, Ryan Kusuno found the head of an awaiting Sergio Hipolito. Hipolito powerfully headed the ball into the back of the net to put the game back to even at 1-1. “That was a big goal” said Kusuno, who served the well-placed cross to Hipolito, “We knew there was not much time, but I was just trying to give my team a chance and send the game into overtime”
No sooner than another opportunity was created for either team, the ref blew the whistle to end regulation play. The winner of this game would thus be decided in sudden-death overtime.
In overtime, both teams came out with a renewed energy. Brown Dog created the first scoring opportunity when Chad Kusuno fired a well-struck, long-range shot towards the goal. A leaping, one-handed save from High Mark goalkeeper Walter Kvale received the applause of everyone inside Town Park.
Shortly thereafter, High Mark forward Oscar Perla found himself with the ball and Brown Dog goalkeeper Corff playing off his goal line. Perla took a chance, shooting the ball high and over Corff’s head. Corff dove to make the save, but the ball grazed his hands and rolled into the back of the net, giving High Mark the tournament trophy.
The Telluride Parks and Recreation Department had their hands full as they hosted eight teams in the annual tournament this year. Pool #1 saw Brown Dog placed along with teams from Aspen, Glenwood Springs, and Grand Junction. Pool #2 carried High Mark along with teams from Crested Butte, Winter Park, and Westminster. Each team played the other three teams in their pool, and the team with the highest point total advanced to the finals to play the other pool winner.
Tournaments have their obstacles, and an early obstacle the Telluride Parks and Recreation Department had to deal with was that a Durango team dropped out just a couple of weeks before the tournament was to start. Parks and Rec. immediately went to some of the team leaders of the Telluride Adult Co-Ed Soccer league, and within minimal time this early obstacle was resolved. Durango was out, and a second Telluride team was in.
The weekend brought on great weather and after twelve games were played throughout Saturday and Sunday, Brown Dog and High Mark led both of their respective pools for highest points totals.
Their exciting overtime championship game put the final touch on the weekend.
The Telluride Parks and Rec. department takes great pride in running a good tournament. Ryan McGovern, Recreation Supervisor, said: “An organized operation is what the Parks and Rec. department strives for, so that each team leaves with a good experience and wants to come back to play in our tournament.”
Telluride Parks and Rec. thanks all the participating town teams, referees, and sponsors for the 2010 Telluride Invitational Co-ed Soccer Tournament, which include Brown Dog Pizza, High Mark Development, The Llama, Last Dollar Saloon and Excelsior.