COMMERCE CITY — History was made on Saturday, as the Crested Butte claimed the first-ever Class 2A boys soccer state championship with a thrilling 1-0 overtime victory over Telluride at Dicks Sporting Good Park.
Late in overtime, the Titans were given an opportunity to close out the game with a direct free kick just above the Miners' box, and Titans sophomore striker Gabi Marmolejo rose to the occasion to blast the game-winning goal past the Miners goalkeeper to claim the state title for the Titans.
"It was almost as if it was slow motion, watching the ball hit the back of the net, and then turning around to celebrate and cheer with my teammates," Marmolejo said following the game.
Following a strong 14-1-2 regular season record, Crested Butte began their postseason journey by outperforming Heritage Christian in a high scoring 5-2 affair in the quarterfinals, and then by edging out Denver Christian in a 2-1 nail-biter to advance to the 2A title game.
The Miners earned their way to the championship match after coming away with a double-overtime 2-1 victory over Dawson, and overcoming a high-scoring affair against Fountain Valley with a 3-2 overtime victory.
With neither team being able to come up with a goal during regulation time, it was gut-check time for both teams as they headed into overtime. Hearing both coaches giving speeches looking to inspire their team, fans were in for a thrilling overtime.
"I told them that this is the greatest experience they will ever have," Titans head coach Than Acuff said. "There is nothing better than a state title match going into overtime, and it is all or nothing and for them to live it up."
Coming from a tough 3A division, Crested Butte is among many teams in 2A who have been dreaming of the moment that they were able to hoist a state title and call it their own — for the Titans, this dream became a reality in dramatic fashion.
"It means so much to me, this is my fifteenth year coaching," Acuff said. "We would always run into a brick wall in 3A and I am just happy that we had the opportunity to just press through the entire tournament and make it to the finals and then seal the deal."
"I think that it speaks volumes to Crested Butte and Telluride being in the finals, and I think that it says what we have going on in the mountain towns and on the Western Slope."
Crested Butte's offense was a large part of the team all season long and continued to be strong in the state tournament as the Titans scored seven goals throughout the tournament against Heritage Christian and Denver Christian.
"I have coached good teams and talented teams, but I have never had talented teams with this kind of chemistry," Acuff said. "From my seniors down to the freshmen that just joined the squad this year, everyone has been on it."
"Every minute of every practice and every game. Everyone has been a part of this, and it has been phenomenal."