When it mattered most, Telluride High School’s Charlie Miller took advantage of his faceoff opportunities Tuesday against Durango, as he won 13-of-16 draws and helped the Miners hold on to a 7-6 victory against the Demons at Durango High School.
Miller won the biggest draw with a Durango comeback in the cards down one goal at 7-6 with 3 minutes, 4 seconds remaining. He won the ensuing faceoff and helped the Miners play keep-away. They were able to close out the game without the Demons having possession for longer than a few seconds, and DHS could not get the ball in the basket of senior captain Cullen Robinette, who had scored four out of Durango’s six goals to that point.
“I am pretty happy with my performance, to say the least,” Miller said. “I’ve been taking faceoffs since I was a freshman, and I’ve got a lot of experience under my belt. I knew how Durango would come out aggressive, so I just had to match their intensity, and I was happy that I had a good day today.”
DHS head coach John Robinette thought the difference was at the faceoff circle.
“We knew it was going to be tough, and at half we tried to switch it up,” coach Robinette said. “It’s not just on our faceoff guy, but it comes down to our wingers, as well. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, they were just better with that and getting 50-50 balls. When you don’t have the ball, possession leads to shots, and shots lead to goals. It’s tough to win when you get three faceoff wins all day.”
The Demons (2-1, 0-1 5A/4A Mountain League) went down 3-2 after the first quarter, but Robinette scored the first two goals of the game for DHS, including one where he beat three defenders and bounced it in to give DHS its first lead of the game.
The Miners (2-0, 1-0 ML) took advantage of possession and shot opportunities, as DHS senior goalie Dylan Gaver had 14 of his game-high 19 saves in the first half, and the Miners had 18-13 shot advantage at halftime. Durango led 4-3 heading into the locker room behind Cullen Robinette’s third goal of the game after he got open behind the net, drove to the left and scored with 3:47 remaining in the half.
In the second half, it was a similar story, as the Miners scored four out of the six goals in the half. Cullen Robinette scored his final goal of the afternoon with 1:41 remaining in the third quarter after he grabbed his own rebound that Telluride’s goalie initially saved. Robinette’s final goal was also the Demons’ final lead of the day.
In the fourth, Telluride scored three out of the final four goals, including the go-ahead by junior attackman Dillon Sheehan, who beat Gaver after he was given a few feet of room and slotted it just inside the right post. Kaden Katz gave the Miners an insurance goal after he scored with 6:07 left.
“Often times, when your offense is still working on the early-season kinks and is struggling but you’ve got a guy at the faceoff who can keep winning the ball, keep putting the ball back in your sticks, it’s almost like he’s coaching for me,” said Telluride head coach Grayson Fertig. “He’s giving the guys to repeat the offense and try it again. That’s what I love really about a guy like Charlie. He had a huge performance for us today.”
In an effort to win back possession, the Demons were aggressive on defense, but it would cost them as they committed two penalties in the fourth quarter, including a slashing call with 2:48 remaining. Rocco Estes’ late goal to make it a one-goal game was too much to overcome, and the Miners were able to keep possession and run out the clock.
“We shot ourself in the foot there in the fourth with two penalties that didn’t help our cause, but credit to Telluride,” coach Robinette said. “Their goalie made some key saves down the stretch, and we had some chances, but we didn’t take our opportunities when we had them. We’ve got to get more people involved offensively instead of just Cullen and Corbin (Randle).”
DHS finished with a 31-28 shot advantage, while the Miners held an edge in the ground ball department, 24-23.
Durango will travel to the Front Range this weekend when it will play Englewood at 4 p.m. Friday and then at noon Saturday against Prairie View.
“We’ve got to make some adjustments, but we can take this as a learning experience,” coach Robinette said. “We’ve got to have a short memory and learn from our mistakes and get ready for our trip up to Denver.
The Durango High School girls lacrosse team played a make-up game against Aspen and lost 20-0 on Tuesday at Aspen.