Summit soccer win clutch game against Steamboat, 4-2
Summit vs. Steamboat Springs — Sept. 22
1st 2nd Final
Summit 3 1 4
Steamboat 1 1 2
Call this one the Cole Catron show.
On a glorious September evening — maybe the last warm home game of Indian summer in the Rockies — senior midfielder Catron scored twice to give the Summit soccer team (4-2 overall, 2-1 4A Western Slope) a commanding 4-2 win over Steamboat Springs (6-3 overall, 4-2 league). The Tigers are now undefeated at home and sit at third in the 4A Slope standings, even though they’ve played two fewer games than No. 2 Eagle Valley (4-4 overall, 4-1 league) and three fewer games than No. 1 Battle Mountain (6-2 overall, 5-1 league).
Thursday night was the first time the Tigers have defeated the Sailors since 2014 and it showed just how tough and patient this year’s team could be. They attacked the goal when the time was right and held onto the ball when it wasn’t, all while playing at the exact same level as a fast, fit and traditionally intense Steamboat side.
“There was a lot at stake tonight,” head coach Tommy Gogolen said after the game. “They brought their best game.”
The Tigers started fast and furious in the opening five minutes with a goal on their first corner kick. Junior midfielder Jackson Stone placed a perfect ball in the middle of the goal box, where senior mid Cole Buller fought through defenders to earn his first goal of the season.
The game evened out soon after, when both teams found a rhythm in the midfield to go back and forth with attacking drives. Possession was almost completely even through the first 30 minutes, but Summit did a bang-up job of containing Steamboat’s main scoring threat, senior forward Cruz Archuleta. This gave their own senior weapons — Catron, Gerson Martinez and Salvador Zambrano — several opportunities to pressure the goal.
The score remained 1-0 until the 31st minute, when Catron found the gap he’d been looking for — on his weak side. After gathering the ball just outside of the goal box, the senior took one touch, then another, then one more to set up a beauty of a left-foot shot across the goal and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Steamboat responded in the 37th minute with a fast-break goal from Archuleta. It set the tone for the rest of the match: Any time one team scored, the other team came back with an immediate counter-attack. Sometimes these attacks came within 30 seconds of a goal, like when Martinez and Catron had near misses in the 38th and 39th minutes.
Few things are certain in soccer, but it tends to be that the team with control of momentum and pressure takes the win, even if that means a lucky goal or two. The Tigers lucky goal came with a minute remaining in the first, when Zambrano and crew dismantled the Steamboat back line and forced a defender to score on his own goalie with a botched clear. They entered the locker room ahead, 3-1.
“I told him before the game, ‘Tonight is your night,’” Gogolen said of Catron, whose goal was his first of the season. “You’re going to make it happen if you push and he did.”
Steamboat dominated the stat sheet in the second half — they had 12 shots on goal to Summit’s four and kept the ball firmly in Tigers territory — but the home defense didn’t make the same mistakes when pressured. Junior keeper Kyle Wertz had two clutch stops, including one on another fast-break attack from Archuleta and that kept his team comfortably ahead.
Confident play from the Tigers defense gave the offense enough time to relax and recoup. In the 67th minute Catron again got the ball, this time on his strong side, and sent a right-foot rocket into the left corner to give his team an unprecedented 4-1 lead.
But, like the first half, the euphoria was short lived. Steamboat scored less than a minute later to come within striking distance — no team can sit back and relax against the Sailors, even when up by two goals — and a game that was intense, yet clean, started to get sloppy. Wertz had another heart-pounding stop on a breakaway in the 74th minute, followed by yellow cards for Steamboat in the 78th and 79th minutes.
Only after the final whistle blew could Summit celebrate the win, but man, when it was finally over the team was on top of the world.
“That was good soccer, boys,” Gogolen told his crew at midfield after shaking hands, “And that was smart soccer.”
And that’s how you do homecoming right.
The Tigers face another tough opponent, cross-county rival Eagle Valley, at home on Sept. 27. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
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