RIFLE - Smacking the ball off the crossbar or post some 11 times the first time Summit played Rifle in boys' soccer this season left the Tigers a bit frustrated.
Those issues were gone in the teams' second meeting, when Summit buried plenty of goals in Tuesday's 8-0 win over the host Bears. That's right, 8-0. That's double the most goals scored by the Tigers in a single game this season.
"We've definitely had some trouble finishing this year," Summit senior Connor Hebert said. "We've had lots of opportunities, but we just haven't been able to put it on target. The last time we played them, we had 11 shots hit the post or crossbar. ... Our trainer was counting and letting us know."
Junior midfielder Max Ortiz got the Tiger momentum going with a goal early on in the game.
"Max's goal got us going. He boosted us right off the bat," Tigers head coach Tommy Gogolen said, adding that had it come much later, it might not have meant as much. "It was good to see him get a little more momentum going into the end of the season."
Gogolen said his team has dominated most of its games this season, but the scores didn't show it.
"Finally, the boys were finishing," he said.
Senior forward Alan Roque also scored a pair of goals for the Tigers, who improved to 10-4 overall and to 9-2 in the 4A Western Slope League. With just a Thursday game against visiting Steamboat Springs remaining, Summit has a second-place league finish locked up. Regardless, the aim is to finish strong.
"Our goal is to be 11-4 at the end of the season," Gogolen said. "Steamboat's a very tough opponent. They've been playing really good soccer lately. We wanted to be seeded high, so 11-4's the goal. We've got to take care of Steamboat this Thursday."
The last time the two teams met, Summit won, 1-0. It wasn't an easy win back in September, and Gogolen doesn't expect Thursday's meeting at Tiger Stadium to be much different. He called Steamboat the toughest league competition for his squad behind Battle Mountain.
Beyond Roque's two goals and Ortiz' one, Evan Feldman, Cesar Serrano and Gabe Slottow also found net for Summit. So, too, did keepers Erick Gamboa and Noah Glasco, who appeared on the field at different times.
"It was fun for the guys and fun for the team to see our goalie score his first goal ever," Gogolen said of Glasco.
"It was a stress-free game," Gogolen said, adding that Rifle senior Marco Gutierrez was able to dribble the ball between players at times, but for the most part, the team was shut down by the Tigers defense, led by senior sweeper Connor Hebert and senior stopper Alex Roque. The team's keepers had less than a handful of saves during the game.
Gogolen credits Hebert, Alex Roque and junior defender Daniel McFadden as the keys to keeping the Tigers at eight goals against all season. On the flip side, the offense has put 42 away.
"I'm proud of how many goals we've given up all year," Gogolen said. "Our defense has been strong all year. That's where our maturity and leadership comes from."
With just a Thursday game at Glenwood Springs left on the season slate, Rifle is 2-12 overall.
"The guys kept their heads on straight and finished with dignity," said Bears coach Rich Carter, whose team has battled injury and eligibility issues of late. "We've still got one more game left. I'm happy with their attitudes and everything, especially with all they've been through the last six games."