The team of mostly underclassmen trained hard all spring and then put on their best game faces at competitive tournaments in Durango and Grand Junction the last two weekends.
Facing off against select teams from larger cities and strong soccer towns like Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Durango, and Grand Junction, Telluride was considered the underdog in most of their games, says Telluride under-18 soccer coach Justin Chandler, noting, “their results were nothing less than astounding.”
Telluride caused a flurry of upsets beginning in Durango earlier this month, when they shocked select teams from Albuquerque and Flagstaff by finishing in third place, missing the final by just one point. A strong Durango squad later went on to win the tournament.
Telluride met this same Durango team again, this time at their first matchup of the Grand Junction Border Battle tournament last weekend. Because Telluride has a small team, it runs an offensive-heavy style of play, putting just three defenders in the back while tipping the scales offensively in the front. With Telluride defenders Nico Shapiro, Nikki Jones and Jonathon Young staying attentive in front of Brendan Kelley’s net, Telluride’s offense managed to jolt their Durango competition with a few early goals. Durango matched those goals to tie the game 2-2, but Telluride maintained their pressure and snuck in another point to end the game with a surprise 3-2 victory.
Chandler later called the win “the biggest upset in recent years.”
Running the same game plan, Telluride faced off against Grand Junction in their next game. Foreign exchange student Guido Xavier, combined with the dominating duo of Santiago and Henry Sosa, were dangerous in the front with constant attacks, forcing the well-stacked Grand Junction team to concentrate on their defense. Telluride ultimately came up with the 1-0 victory.
The next day’s first game would put Telluride up against Basalt, the same team that knocked the out of the State Championships during last fall’s high school soccer season. With middle field players Fisher Hazen and Keith Hill serving as backup for their attackers, Telluride managed to tie Basalt 1-1.
With assistance from up-and-coming players Morgan Osborne, Jack Herrick, Malcolm Major, Wilder Hanley, and Jake Burchmore, Telluride’s boys capped the weekend by beating a Delta/Hotchkiss/Paonia team 6-0. This final victory sealed Telluride’s position as the tournament leader, giving Telluride its first-ever win at the Grand Junction Border Battle.
Chandler says this spring club soccer season is extremely beneficial for the kids, who will have that much more training and game experience as they step onto the soccer pitch for next fall’s high school season.
“Things are looking up for the fall for sure,” he said, noting that tying the team that bumped them out of last year’s State tournament should serve as a good boost to their confidence come next school year. “Also, beating some of these big teams from 4A and 5A schools is going to go a long way” for Telluride High School boys soccer, Chandler added.