At season’s end, committed Summit girls soccer program shows growth
Tigers fall 6-0 to Steamboat Springs in final game
Even in a difficult defeat Saturday, June 12 during a 6-0 loss to Steamboat Springs (9-1), the Summit High School girls soccer team (1-9) stayed committed until the end. They did so, capping an atypical, late state high school sports season during which many other teams and players folded up early.
At the end of his first year guiding the program, Tigers head coach Jotwan Daniels told his team they “moved mountains” in terms of changing the mentality and identity of Summit girls soccer.
“For a team that logged zero varsity minutes heading into the season, the team I saw today — it wasn’t the result we were looking for, but the courage — the courage has been unbelievable,” Daniels said.
Daniels is as prideful of this group of girls as he is passionate about achieving the goal of turning around the program. That was reflected in a postgame moment when he held up the Summit logo from his shirt and pumped it toward the crowd of family and fans.
“I love this team to death,” Daniels said. “I’m a demanding coach but, my goodness, if these girls haven’t given it to me 100% of the way.”
After the game — which Steamboat seized early on a penalty kick and controlled 4-0 at halftime — Daniels said the Tigers view the departing graduated senior class as one that built the foundation for the future.
“I told them they are invited to come back at any time and look at the house they helped build,” Daniels said.
The coach pointed to soft-spoken center back stalwarts Camille Thompson and Andi Bierbaum for providing a steely demeanor and dedication. Daniels also credited Maclean Donovan for her commitment to return to the team for a final pair of games after time away post-graduation. He was particularly proud of senior Brielle Quigley’s decision to play on the pitch until the season’s final second after running at league championship track and field meets Thursday and Friday.
“For all intents and purposes, she was done,” Daniels said. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”
Quigley — a key member of Summit’s state-championship girls rugby team this season — said it was the soccer program’s positive atmosphere under Daniels that inspired her to join the team this season for her first year.
“Two sports is a big undertaking, but I made a commitment and I wanted to follow through on it till the end,” Quigley said.
Quigley will play with three senior teammates — Bryton Ferrari, Lily Hess and Maleena Mero — at one final rugby tournament later this month in Little Rock, Arkansas. But Saturday was a chance for her and other Summit seniors to say goodbye to the Tiger Stadium turf they’ve called home for the past four years.
Over the past few months the field has been their sporting sanctuary from all of the difficulties and uncertainties of the novel coronavirus pandemic. That’s why it meant the world to Quigley to get the invite back to the pitch from Daniels for five final minutes after the Sailors tacked on a sixth and final goal.
“It’s the last time I will ever play on that field so it was nice to be on there when the buzzer went off,” Quigley said. “It was kind of a final goodbye. And it was nice to be surrounded by people I feel close to and support me.”
A first-hand student in Coach Karl Barth’s rugby program of what it takes to build a winner, Quigley said this Summit sophomore-heavy group has potential in the future. That team will be led by the midfield duo of Katy Clapp and Kelley Duffy, other talented youngsters like Olyvia Snyder — who also ran track Thursday and Friday — and Maggie Barggren and goalkeeper Sarah Pappas. Pappas made six saves Saturday while Tigers graduated senior Grace Rogers stopped four shots in her, and the rest of the seniors’, Summit soccer swan song.
“They just have the passion for the sport,” Quigley said of Summit’s returning players. “Having passion in everything you do I think is really important. If you are not as passionate about a sport, you probably won’t go as far as you’d like to.”
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