The Miners are riding a wave of momentum.
The Telluride High School boys soccer team kicked off the new season with memories from last year’s historic finish.
The Telluride boys, for the first time in school history, advanced all the way to the state championship game a year ago, where they lost to regional resort rival Crested Butte.
“A lot of these kids were part of last year,” said Telluride head coach Ramon Rodriguez. “They are excited to be back … they didn’t like the way it ended last year.”
He said the Miners reported to fall training camp with a renewed commitment and focus on returning to the state playoffs.
“The mentality is that they are angry about that championship game. They want to take that loss out on everyone else,” Rodriguez said. “After last season, I think they realized what the payoffs can be.”
He said the Miners started this season with an orientation toward teamwork.
The results included a 2-0 win over Alamosa and a 10-0 victory over Bayfield last week on Telluride’s cozy home turf field.
“We didn’t know for sure how the scoring would go,” Rodriguez said. The team had leading scorer Mathieu Richard back for his senior season. “We want to get other guys to score to help take the pressure off Mathieu.”
Taking the coaching advice to heart, the Miners posted 10 goals against Bayfield with six different players scoring.
Richard led the way with three goals.
Senior Jonah Jodlowski and junior Landon Kusuno scored two goals each.
Miles Welch, Bryce Lambert and Henry Martin also tallied goals against the Wolverines.
Rodriguez said Tate Young and South Livermore have stepped into bigger roles for the Miners this season.
Livermore scored a goal in Telluride’s 2-0 win over Alamosa. Richard scored the other goal for the Miners.
Rodriguez said the defense again is the anchor for the Telluride boys soccer team.
“The defense took us into that late-season run last year,” Rodriguez said, pointing to key playoff wins over Dawson School and Fountain Valley — two traditional powerhouses. “We have Jonah (Jodlowski) back on defense; he’s an animal out there. He’s getting really comfortable back there.”
Johnny Wilcox also returns after starting every game for the Miners a year ago.
With Beck Lystad and Peter Spencer, the Telluride coach said the Miners have depth on defense.
A number of others are contributing, said Rodriguez, who is in his third season as the Telluride head coach.
Veteran Tommy Wells returns in goal for the Miners.
“He’s back again for his senior year. He’s had the two shutouts,” Rodriguez said, adding that the defense has been stellar in front of Wells.
“He had a helluva championship game against Crested Butte last year with all those saves,” Rodriguez said. “He’s back and he’s pushing even harder.”
The coach said the entire team is pushing hard to “consistently get better.”
Part of that improvement includes Telluride’s annual appearance at the Coal Ridge Tournament in New Castle next weekend.
The Miners will take on bigger schools, like Coal Ridge and Fruita Monument. Their first game is against Vail Mountain School, another elite soccer school, today (Friday) at 3:30 p.m.
“This is a chance for us to see some other teams,” Rodriguez said. “These teams are good. We’ll see how we match up.”
The Telluride boys soccer team will play at Montezuma Cortez on Sept. 17 before the first major showdown of the season: The Miners will host Crested Butte in a state championship rematch Sept. 20 in Telluride.
The return engagement in Crested Butte is scheduled for Oct. 26, the final match of the regular season.
“The school is excited about our season; the community is excited,” Rodriguez said.
He’s hoping for even bigger crowds at the home matches where the Miners have the opportunity to share their success with the community.
“We want them to come out and be a part of it,” Rodriguez said.