By Stephen Jiron
DEL NORTE — Tuesday afternoon on windswept Speiser Field, Del Norte soccer (9-4-0) took on the Crested Butte Titans (10-2-0) in an interclass challenge for both teams. The Tigers were victorious in an overtime thriller that wrapped with a 3-2 score for the home team.
Del Norte has likely been looking forward to the opportunity to take on the Titans for some time now, as Crested Butte offered the Tigers a specific challenge. Entering Tuesday’s contest Crested Butte held the number four spot in the RPI rankings while Del Norte resided in the number eight spot. Crested Butte’s only loss came at the hands of the Tiger’s neighbors to the east, 3A Alamosa, in a 1-0 game. Titans had a noteworthy resume but have also cleaned up games in their own class. Crested Butte boasts wins over Telluride and Ridgeway, two fellow top-ten ranked teams.
There was nothing but respect for the Titans from Tigers Head Coach Russell Randolph, “They’re a solid team, they’re a very good team very well coached, very composed.”
With all that visiting them on their home turf the Del Norte girls let their nerves get the best of them in the first half. Midway through the first stanza and Del Norte was on the wrong end of a 2-0 game. But the Tigers shown signs of life, sophomore Kendra Parra got the girls on the board ending the shut out with 18 minutes remaining in the half.
In the second half the Tigers faced an uphill battle. They needed to make up a goal, the sun and the wind were in their eyes and Crested Butte’s keeper Presley Eaton had enough leg to flip the field on anything she could put laces to. The Tigers defense had to make a move. In the softer parts of the schedule Del Norte’s defense had yet to be tested like this, usually being called on to keep the ball on the attack while Chloe McComas and Kendra Parra hammered away at opposing keepers. Now they needed to break up the speedy Titan rushes and quickly clear balls, they responded.
The equalizer came on a rush that started as a cleared ball that slipped through midfield and found its way to Parra, who knocked in her second of the day to even things up. Neither team would score through regulation beginning the sudden death overtime period. That was where a corner kick from McComas sailed to Parra who was waiting behind the keeper to head in the clincher.
All thanks to a nifty bit of bait-and-switch from Coach Randolph, “One of our corners (kicks) is the short ball which draws players out, we’d done that one several times… we had one earlier in the half that we didn’t have anyone on the back post and we missed a good opportunity. So I told them hey we got to crowd that back post, and that’s where she scored from.”
The win gives Del Norte their fourth win in a row and their second overtime win in that span. Del Norte will go on the road next to Buena Vista on May 3 at 4 p.m. before coming home the next day to close their season against Ignacio at 11 a.m.