After extended break, Summit boys soccer ready to rebound from double-overtime loss
9 days since last game, Tigers travel to Denver West on Saturday
The Summit High School varsity boys soccer team (1-2) will return from a nine-day stretch without a game on a road trip Saturday, Sept. 11, to Denver West (0-2).
Tigers head coach Jotwan Daniels said the extended time away from competition has enabled a hobbled Tigers team to recover since nearly 200 minutes of game soccer in a three-day span.
“This game wasn’t really so much us preparing for the opponent,” Daniels said. “It’s us preparing for us to do what we need to to be successful.”
In Summit’s last game, a tough 2-1 double-overtime loss Sept. 2 at Steamboat Springs, Daniels said the Tigers saw one of their best players, senior Gannon Heisler, go down to a knee injury. Tigers sophomore midfielder Santiago Casco also dinged up his foot in the game. And Tigers defender Lucas Sudduth, a key senior component to Summit’s stout defense, missed the Steamboat game after sustaining an injury two days prior in Summit’s 3-0 win over Frederick.
While Daniels is unsure whether Heisler will be able to go Saturday, Sudduth is able to play at 85% and Casco will be back in the lineup. Whatever the combination, the coach is confident his team can bounce back with a win over the Cowboys — and maybe pitch another shutout, too.
“We kind of like pitching shutouts, frustrating our opponents,” the coach said. “Defensively, we want to maintain being compact and being as difficult as possible for opponents to break us down. We take pride in being stubborn defenders.”
The Tigers will likely attack the Cowboys like they have other opponents this season: out of a 4-5-1 formation with a solo striker up high at center forward. Summit has been working three games into the young season to create offense around that solo striker with two midfield wings running up and playing forward situationally, with aggression — and the opponent’s goal — in mind.
If the left-wing threat Heisler isn’t able to go, the Tigers have several players they can plug into his position. That includes proven veterans such as senior Jonah Mocatta, who leads the team with two goals on the season; junior Fabian Cuevas, who leads the team with three assists on the season; junior Alex Espinoza; and senior Alan Casillas.
“One of the things we’re really proud of as a coaching staff is there’s competition everywhere on the field, and competition breeds more competition,” Daniels said. “And then, from the soccer end of things, we’re just really trying to be a lot more purposeful with our play.”
Daniels said Friday that there’s been consistent execution in practices from his midfield trio of senior Andrew Martin, junior Owen Gallo and Casco. Since the Steamboat game, Daniels said the Tigers have focused on attacking on transition opportunities and defending sudden change-of-possession situations. The coach said Casco, Gallo and Martin — who remains in playing shape despite a lingering injury — have showcased their playmaking in those practice situations.
“I’m expecting the boys to get back to where we were prior to the Steamboat loss,” Daniels said. “I would love to see us start to dictate play a little more as opposed to being reactive with what opponents are doing. We want to be purposeful with the ball — that’s the way we want to attack and exploit defenders. Against Steamboat, we had success on the outsides and wings. And against Denver West, we might be able to find some success on the outside again.”
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