Owen Gallo buries late-game winner to lift Summit boys soccer team over Erie

Senior Owen Gallo fires a shot at the net in the Summit boys soccer team's home opener against Erie High School on Friday, Aug. 19. Gallo went on to score the game winning goal with 23 seconds remaining in the game, lifting Summit over Erie, 3-2.
Joel Wexler/Summit Daily News

With the atmosphere of Friday night lights and the excitement of a fresh season, the Summit boys soccer team took the field for its first game of the season against the Erie Tigers on Friday, Aug. 19. 

The team — which includes 11 seniors — is set on making the playoffs for a second straight season and securing a home playoff game after being eliminated on the road last year by D’Evelyn High School in the first round of the 2021 4A state playoffs. 

The Tigers wasted no time showing their intentions for the new season. A minute into the game senior captain Owen Gallo cut through the Erie defense with speed and purpose and slipped a ball past the Erie goaltender to go up 1-0.

The goal by Gallo was met by cheers from the home crowd while Erie reeled as it looked for an answer. A few minutes later, a lofty kick by Erie evened the score at 1-1 when the ball found its way over the head of senior goaltender Trevor Hodges. 

Following the goal by Erie, both teams settled into the game and started feeling each other out for the first time in the game. After alternating possessions, it was Summit who capitalized on its opportunity by advancing the ball deep into its offensive zone as the players attempted to score a go-ahead goal.

Gallo and senior Fabian Cuevas both led the charge for the Tigers on the offensive side of the ball, but neither could find the back of the net. 

About 23 minutes into the first half, Erie quickly advanced it into its offensive zone. Senior defenseman Evan Reil tried to pursue a bouncing ball alongside an Erie player, but Reil was beaten to the ball and the offense put the ball past the reach of Hodges to go up 2-1. 

Erie defended its lead into halftime, leading the Tigers 2-1 after 40 minutes.

“They gave us a few problems that we had to be problem solvers for,” head coach Jotwan Daniels said of being down 2-1 at halftime.

In the second half, Summit once again looked united as the team attacked the Erie defense with a fury of looks. 

Gallo especially kept knocking on Erie’s doorstep. His pressure hardly allowed the visiting team to catch its breath in the second half.

Seven minutes into the fresh half, the pressure by the Tigers paid off with the equalizer. Following a shot by Gallo that deflected off the Erie goalie, senior Alex Espinoza put his foot on the deflection and found the back of the net to even the score at 2-2. 

The Espinoza goal gave the team the confidence it needed to close out the game. Gallo continued to use his speed to break in front of the net and fire shots from close range, but every time he came up empty handed.

With less than a minute remaining in regulation and the ball in Erie’s offensive zone, it looked like the game would go into overtime. 

However, Gallo refused to give up on the game and took one last sprint to the net, where he buried the game winner for the Tigers with 23 seconds remaining in the game. 

“We all really wanted to win, so we kept knocking on the door no matter what,” Gallo said of his game winning goal. “Eventually our chances came, and we put it in the back of the net.”

The Tigers closed out the remaining time to win its first game of the season, on home turf, 3-2.

“The team did really well at persevering,” Gallo said.

Daniels was ecstatic about his team’s performance in the Tigers’ first game of the season, but he recognized there are areas that need improvement throughout the rest of the season.

“We are not the finished product that we want to be. We are still a work in progress,” Daniels said. “That was a good victory, that was a good result and I think that is going to give us that momentum for a tough league matchup next Tuesday.”

The Summit High boys will play their next game on Tuesday, Aug. 23, when they take on Battle Mountain for their first Western Slope league game of the season. Summit will host the Huskies at Tiger Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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