The Miners overcame a wet and muddy field and a 1-0 deficit in the first half to defeat Crested Butte, 4-1. It was sweet revenge for Coach Brent Englund and Telluride, who had suffered a 3-2 loss to the Crested Butte Titans two weeks earlier.
"We played a lot better today, obviously," Englund said. "We played our game, played the way we needed to play."
Englund said the keys to his team's strong performance were smart passing and good, aggressive movement by his players, rather than waiting around for defenders and forcing passes and shots.
Telluride sophomore Luke Story got off several shots early in the first half, as did junior Ryan Jaeger and senior Ryan Roth, but most of them were narrow misses or were stopped by the goalkeeper. Still, the Miners maintained possession of the ball for most of the game and had many more opportunities to score than the Titans.
About 20 minutes in, when Crested Butte was in scoring position, the whistle blew and Crested Butte senior David Jelinek was awarded a free kick in front of the goal. Jelinek converted the opportunity into a goal, and the Titans took their only lead of the game.
Telluride attacked quickly to try to tie the game, setting up junior Jesse Hope for a diagonal shot on goal, but it was blocked by Crested Butte's goalie.
Roth had several shot attempts in the following minutes, and Telluride almost scored on a pass from junior Kolby Ward to senior Lance Kipfer, for a straight-on shot from the center. Kipfer's shot was just over the bar, however.
With less than five minutes to play in the first half, Telluride scored its first goal after a corner kick opportunity that sophomore T.J. Tassone was able to take advantage of, and the crowd became louder than it had been all morning.
In the closing minutes of the half, both Roth and Ward had shot attempts, but the score remained tied at halftime.
The second half of the game started in a similar manner to the first half, with Telluride advancing the ball quickly. This time, however, Telluride converted on one of its first shot attempts, with less than five minutes gone by in the half, as Kipfer scored on an off-balance shot and slid in the mud to put the ball in the net.
Just two minutes later, Kipfer again positioned himself right in front of the goalkeeper and outsmarted him to give the Miners a 3-1 lead.
Crested Butte began to get overly aggressive on defense, and it cost the Titans, as junior Nick Gainous was given a yellow card after he shoved Telluride junior Jesse Lamb.
As a result, Lamb got a free kick opportunity within scoring range. Lamb did not convert and Crested Butte got the ball back, but Telluride quickly took it back from the Titans for another offensive run. Kipfer then got possession of the ball and went by the Crested Butte defense for a one-man breakaway. Again, it was Kipfer and the goalkeeper, and Kipfer quickly kicked the ball in the net for a 4-1 lead.
For the remainder of the game, Telluride continued to attack and play tight defense when Crested Butte took possession of the ball, but the score remained the same. Lamb appeared to score when he launched a shot from outside the goalie box, but the referees ruled it no good because the Crested Butte defenders were not ready, much to the confusion of many players, coaches and fans. At times, Telluride appeared to be too eager to score, with several off-sides calls in the closing minutes of the game.
After the game, Coach Englund said he and his team were optimistic about their upcoming games this week, both at home.
"We feel good about where we're headed," he said.
The Miners play on Friday (varsity, 4 p.m.; junior varsity, 5:45 p.m.) against Pagosa Springs High School, whom Englund said is one of the two best teams in the six-team Southwest Soccer League, Telluride being the other. Telluride plays again on Saturday (JV, 11:30 a.m.; varsity, 1:30 p.m.) against Bayfield High School, whom Telluride tied earlier this season. Both games will most likely be played at the Down Valley Park.