COLORADO SPRINGS – Sawyer Barney couldn’t help but think of his dream scenario the night before the Class 2A boys soccer championship game.

A one-goal win with him scoring the game winner felt like something he could only fantasize about. But fantasy became reality on Saturday when he broke the scoreless tie in the 55th minute to power Crested Butte to a 1-0 win over Bishop Machebeuf to claim the fourth state soccer title in program history.

“It felt so good,” Barney said. “That’s the stuff you think about last night, of course. It’s the best feeling in high school soccer and it’s what you want in the final. That was awesome.”

It came as the Titans (14-2-3 overall) battled the Buffaloes to a scoreless first half. Despite not netting a goal, they had actually accomplished everything they needed to in that first 40 minutes.

“They executed the game plan we had for the first half near perfectly,” coach Than Acuff said. “That was all we could ask of them.”

But at halftime the message changed a bit. This is no longer a regular season game where the stakes are relatively low and there’s a new chance to win another game in a few days.

Saturday was it and if it was going to be Crested Butte making the long trip home with the state championship trophy, the Titans had to dial up some offense in the second half.

(Dan Mohrmann/

“At halftime, I told them it was time to step it up now,” Acuff said. “The game plan in the first half was executed well but let’s turn it up a notch and see what we can do with the ball.”

The Titans inserted a more aggressive game plan for the final 40 minutes and their scoring opportunities increased. After a couple of shots were either corralled by or just out of reach of Buffs keeper Brendan McGarrity, the Titans saw their opportunity.

A crossing pass from Marin Gardner was placed perfectly for Barney. He controlled the ball into the box and found himself in open space so he took aim.

McGarrity dove to his right, but the ball was just out of reach and the goal sent the Crested Butte fan section into a frenzy.

“We started winning every ball out of the air,” Barney said. “That eventually led to a goal.”

The one thing he didn’t let overcome him in the moment before his shot was the implication that it was going to hold, win or lose.

“I was on autopilot,” he said. “I was just trying to open up the best shot I could and just rip it.”

The Titans won their first state title back in 2018, beating Telluride 1-0 then ran off back-to-back titles in 2020 and 2021, beating Thomas McLaren and Lotus School for Excellence, respectively.

Acuff will never tire of seeing his team play at Weidner Field the host of the boys soccer championship games since the 2020-21 year.

“It’s overwhelming for them,” Acuff said. “And they’re so young. I have so many sophomores on the field as well as juniors who got their first varsity starts this year. They’ve just built the whole season and I think they just looked at this and said ‘Okay, we’re here. I guess we should play soccer.'”

With the youth on the roster, this may have been their first taste of significant playing time at the high school level, but playing for a state championship is something they may get to experience again.

(Dan Mohrmann/