Late equalizer eludes Summit boys soccer in season-opening loss to archrival
Tigers fight in 2-1 loss at Battle Mountain in coach Jotwan Daniels’ debut
The Summit High School varsity boys soccer team began its 2021 season, and the tenure of new head coach Jotwan Daniels, with a hard-fought 2-1 loss at archrival Battle Mountain on Tuesday, Aug 24.
The Tigers went ahead midway through the first half on a Jonah Mocatta corner kick finish before the Huskies rallied for a pair of goals moments later. The action remained at 2-1 through the end of the first half, and it wasn’t until game’s waning moments that the Tigers had a final glance at goal.
Daniels said the Tigers weathered the attacking storm of Battle Mountain for the first two-thirds of the second half before he and the team picked up their attack to go for an equalizer in the game’s final 10 minutes.
In the 78th minute of the 80-minute match, Summit junior attacking midfielder Owen Gallo seized his chance on a run behind the Huskies’ back line. After receiving service from the Tigers’ midfield, Gallo shot on net and played his rebound after the Huskies’ goalkeeper lost command. Gallo dribbled around the keeper and another defender to fire a second attempt low on frame, but a defender cleared it from the goal line to save the match.
“We were unfortunate to not come away with something out of this game,” Daniels said. “Considering the amount of attack Battle Mountain ratcheted up in the second half and our response, I felt a draw would have been a fair result.”
Without senior captain and central midfielder Andrew Martin, Daniels said Gallo combined with fellow junior Fabian Cuevas and senior Gannon Heisler to serve as the nucleus of Summit’s forward attacks. Daniels said Martin is hoping to make his debut in Summit’s next match, the Tigers’ home opener at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, against Frederick.
It was Cuevas who provided the right-footed service on the first half corner kick that the junior Mocatta tapped home for the 1-0 lead. Daniels said Cuevas played a dangerous low ball in to lead to the opportunity.
“He’s just like a good attacking player who figured out where to be before the ball got there,” Daniels said.
The coach said Battle Mountain capitalized on some mental fatigue from Summit in the first half that resulted in a few defensive lapses. Daniels said Summit struggled at times marking the Huskies’ free runners on combination plays.
That said, Daniels said Summit’s defense was the top performing unit on the day. The coach said that was led by senior captain Collin Doran, who swept from the center back position. Daniels also said senior Noe Leyva and his speedy marking ability from right outside back was crucial to keeping Battle Mountain’s top attacking threats in check.
“Pound for pound in one (versus) one situations, he’s one of our better defenders,” Daniels said. “He reads the game really well, his positioning always tends to be right, he knows when to challenge or drop off in space and he has pace to burn. He will not get beat in a foot race. “
Daniels added senior defender Lucas Sudduth and junior goalkeeper Trevor Hodges (eight saves) contributed to Summit’s stout defense. The coach said Sudduth and the Tigers’ back line was especially adept at offside traps. And Daniels said Hodges made a timely two-handed punch save on a threatening Huskies shot.
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