For years, the Crested Butte Kickers adult soccer team dominated Sundays. Whether they were battling for a spot in a tournament finals or mired in the muck of a loser bowl, the Kickers amassed a near-perfect franchise record on Sundays.
But the past two years have been a bit of a different story, with Sunday success eluding them.
That is, until the past Sunday, as an influx of fresh talent, an old school combination, domination on Saturday night and a spirit cleansing freeboxing paced the Kickers to a 4-3 win to close the Telluride soccer tournament 1-1-1.
Back to the good old days.
It was a tough start to the weekend in Telluride. As the team rolled into their campsite Friday night in search of some quality pre-tournament team bonding with 11 players and five vehicles stuffed into one campsite, a neighboring spirit warrior in town for the Mushroom Festival was less than happy with the situation. Choice words were shared and rather than find their team mojo that night, the Kickers were forced to disperse, some opting for the Telluride nightlife while others retired to their sleeping bags before the team’s bond could cure.
As a result, the mycopsychotic bad spirit haunted the Kickers squad as they took the field Saturday morning against the host team Telluride and stumbled through their confusion, losing the opening game of the tournament 4-0. Adding insult to injury, or injury to insult, the Kickers also lost key starter Lauren Alkire.
Frustrated with the result, the team members went their separate ways in an effort to find inner peace prior to their match that afternoon against Grand Junction.
Once regrouped, it was obvious that the team was bringing new and more cohesive energy to the field, spearheaded by Justin Fishback.
Fishback is trained as a goalkeeper but with Division I keeper Molly Keating in net for the Kickers, Fishback was called to play in the field. Fishback’s hustle was unmatched as he broke through inside the 18-yard box to poke a through ball past the Grand Junction keeper for an early Kickers lead.
Keating came up big in net to hold the lead and with a defense anchored by Cal Fenerty and Chris Koepe, the lead appeared firmly in place.
Telluride recruits Adam Westlake and Rachael Brodsky proved key to the Kickers play, bringing in some Box Canyon savvy with Brodsky shutting down her side and Westlake channeling his talents from the last time he played soccer, when he was 12 years old.
But a misplay by a Grand Junction player turned fortuitous as he shanked his cross into the back of the Crested Butte net, leaving the teams finished in a 1-1 tie.
Saturday night was when it all came together for the Kickers. The Kickers called on Jeff Jaquith to initiate a shamanistic spirit cleanse as he made further contact with the heavy energy next door Saturday evening. Following the interaction, the Kickers proceeded to win a long-standing soccer tournament tradition that night at the party. Following further team bonding that night, it was time to put the evil spirit to rest as a trio of Kickers performed a late-night shamanistic freeboxing upon the neighbor and his vehicle.
Microwaves, clothes, baby strollers, blankets, whatever they could fit in their arms and carry across town from the free box to the campsite were placed strategically on top of the neighbor’s van and when the team awoke Sunday morning, the spirit, and his Toyota minivan, were gone for good.
The transformation was immediately evident as the Kickers took the field against the tournament-defending champions, Glenwood Springs. With Ian Elder and Garrett McCaffety causing havoc up top and Polly McGrane, Jaquith and Justin “Juice” Derby dominating play at the midfield and on the flanks, the Kickers took charge almost immediately. Glenwood managed to squeak in an early goal but the Kickers responded almost immediately as Heather Duryea took a pass down the line and turned a low hard cross into the box that deflected off a Glenwood defender to tie the game 1-1 going into halftime.
Kickers energy was at an all-time high and they carried said energy into the second half. Glenwood struck first to go up 2-1 but the Kickers proceeded to strike not once but twice. Ian Elder stalled a defender with a quick move to bury his left-footed shot and tie the game 2-2. Duryea struck again in the second half finding the keeper near post and floating a chip overhead into the far corner for a 3-2 Kickers lead.
Glenwood returned the favor to tie the game but with the Kickers dominating all facets of play, it was evident that they would emerge victorious. The winning strike came with 10 minutes left in regulation as a field switch found Than Acuff pushing up the flank wide open. Acuff carried the ball and dropped a full switch chip pass over the back four of Glenwood to Duryea, who settled and drilled her shot top shelf to seal the Kickers win.