Injury derails Summit girls soccer in loss to Palisade
Tigers fall to Bulldogs 3-1, host Sailors in season finale Saturday
The Summit High School varsity girls soccer team (1-8, 1-8 4A Western Slope League) showed up and played toe-to-toe versus talented Palisade (6-4, 6-4) on Friday, June 11, before a devastating Tigers injury cemented a 3-1 loss.
The Tigers leaned on their composed, confident back line as a defensive anchor to a packed-in attacking formation. Summit’s ability to maintain this shape and attack off it was a vast improvement to its 7-0 loss at Palisade on May 8.
“We did a better job of controlling the game (Friday),” coach Jotwan Daniels said. “They are a team that likes to use speed and craft in the midfield and have players turn and pass for wings to run on. (Friday) after that first ball into the midfield, there wouldn’t be that second ball to their wide players.”
Summit went down 1-0 fewer than 10 minutes into the game but recovered with 9:50 remaining in the first half to tie the game on a goal from senior forward Logan Gaspard. She made the most of an opportunity, crossed in from wide, in a congested Bulldogs box. The senior got a foot to the ball and sent it to the back of the net despite a tackle attempt by a Palisade defender as the goalkeeper was out of the play after a diving save attempt.
“Logan being proactive (Friday) is a big part of the reason why she got that goal,” Daniels said. “As an attacking player, she’s an optimist. She’s always wondering, ‘If I’m here in the right space, perhaps I can get a goal.’ And she does a phenomenal job leading with pressure on their back four, so we can win more of a mistake ball in our attacking third as opposed to at the top of our 18(-yard box).”
With the game tied 1-1 at halftime, Daniels and captain Katy Clapp led the messaging to the rest of the squad of the importance of finishing.
“With 15 seconds to go at halftime, it was like, ‘This is our lunch break — 15 more seconds,’” Daniels said. “‘Let’s get ready to punch back in.’”
Summit came out energized and controlled possession and pace over the first 10 minutes of the second half. Led by Clapp’s touch and deft passing in the midfield, Summit threatened several go-ahead goals on Palisade’s net to no avail.
“They had a lot of speed, but coach is always saying not to act passively,” Tigers senior captain center back Camille Thompson said. “We were reading the situation and cutting crosses off, something we struggled with the last time we played them.”
Summit’s momentum and control of the game evaporated when Palisade found the go-ahead goal on a full-field counter attack 15 minutes into the second half. The Bulldogs settled in stronger from there as Clapp remained Summit’s lead player creating opportunities in the midfield.
“She always makes us work harder, and she makes all of the players on the team feel more confident when on this field,” Gaspard said about Clapp. “She’s kind of everywhere and is always covering somebody.”
LIVE: Summit High girls soccer tied 1-1 at start of second half vs. Palisade, join sports editor Antonio Olivero for the live broadcast…Posted by Summit Daily News on Friday, June 11, 2021
Then with less than 20 minutes left in the game, Clapp attacked with class just outside the Bulldogs 18-yard box before she dropped to the turf and clasped her right knee. Daniels said after the game that it was too early to tell how significant the injury was, though he and the Tigers were concerned it might be serious enough to prevent Clapp not only from playing in Saturday’s 11 a.m. season finale at home versus Steamboat Springs, but also club ball over the summer, including in Greece.
“She’s our engine,” Daniels said. “There’s not a blade of grass on the turf she doesn’t touch. She’s very calm on the ball, and her decisions tend to be right.”
Without Clapp, the already shorthanded Tigers struggled to threaten in their attacking third while the Bulldogs added on one final score for the 3-1 margin.
Senior Grace Rogers made three saves in the first half for Summit while junior Sarah Pappas stopped one shot in the second half. Daniels was encouraged by the play of recent junior-varsity call-ups Viola Koning and Ella Meltzer. The coach is confident they will vie for a win Saturday along with other standouts from Friday — freshman Ellie Sudduth and Summit’s experienced back line — in the season’s swan song vs. the Sailors (8-1, 8-1).
“We’re tired — mentally, physically and spiritually — but we’re not defeated,” Daniels said. “I got the vibe in the locker room, and they believe. We are not down for this (final) game. We are up for it and ready to end on a positive.”
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