The Summit High School boys soccer team came out fast and energized against a sluggish, frustrated and unfocused Steamboat Springs High School soccer team Thursday in Steamboat.
The Sailors fell at home to Summit, 1-0, struggling mightily throughout the contest to break through the Tigers' defense. Where a week ago the Sailors crushed opponents with a machine-like passing attack, on Thursday, those passes were weak and the team's shots on goal were rare.
"We tried different combinations, but we couldn't quite find it today," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said.
On the flip side, SHS head coach Tommy Gogolen was excited about his team's play.
"Steamboat has a good, talented squad. ... Our boys were ready for the challenge and they stepped up," he said.
Summit's Brayan Daniel scored the only goal in the game, assisted by Alex Roque and Evan Feldman. The Tigers outshot the Sailors, 19-7, and sweeper Connor Hebert helped keep most of Steamboat's action away from the Tiger goal. Summit High soccer is now 3-0 in the Western Slope conference.
The loss drops Steamboat to 3-2 on the season, which added weight to Friday's showdown at Palisade. The Bulldogs are 2-2 and also recently lost to Summit, 3-2.
On Thursday, Steamboat simply couldn't move the ball downfield. Any explanation as to why has to start with Summit, which matched the Sailors' burners with able defenders step-for-step on long passes.
Meanwhile, every attempt to piece together a controlled passing game was also foiled. Whether that was a product of a sloppy off-night or an aggressive defense was a matter of perspective.
To Gogolen, Summit's win was about flustering the opponent.
"The most important thing was our pressure," Gogolen said. "We had a lot of good pressure and that really disrupted Steamboat's momentum."
Bohlmann agreed, but saw plenty of flaws in his own team's approach.
"The mental engagement was not there today," Bohlmann said. "We couldn't take care of the ball. We were just sloppy."
Summit got its goal midway through the first half when Roque crossed a ball in front of the goal. Brayan Daniel knocked it down with his head, then plugged it into the net with his foot.
The Tigers continued to push the pace, sweeping up Steamboat drives and charging the other way. It never again resulted in a goal, but it kept the Sailors off balance and limited their possession time.