Summit boys soccer drops double-overtime thriller at Steamboat Springs
Tigers return to action Sept. 11 at Denver West
Three goal line clearances in the final moments of regulation kept the Summit Tigers varsity boys soccer team from besting Western Slope rival Steamboat Springs on Thursday night in Steamboat. Once in double overtime, a dazzling free kick for the Sailors (3-0, 1-0 4A Western Slope) led them to a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Tigers (1-2, 0-2).
The exciting finish came after Summit began the game with a 1-0 lead. That early advantage manifested as Summit settled into a rowdy road environment on the Sailors pitch — one where Steamboat fans in the stands did their homework and heckled Summit’s players by name.
“I told the boys, ‘This is what we do it for — moments like this,’” Tigers head coach Jotwan Daniels said. “Each team was feeling each other out, and our midfield was doing really well, and our back line was solid.”
Daniels said that back line, even without crucial senior Lucas Sudduth, worked ferociously against the Sailors. With that foundation in the back, Summit sprung crafty junior midfielder Owen Gallo forward for a fantastic goal to take a 1-0 lead into halftime.
“He’s such a skillful player, so he beat a couple of defenders with that (attacking) bravery I was talking about,” Daniels said. “He took the ball into the 18(-yard box), put it top corner, and we’re up 1-0 at half.”
At the intermission, Daniels reminded his side that the Sailors would “keep coming.” That’s precisely what they did to start the final 40 minutes of regulation, but each side played stout, “stubborn” defense, as Daniels put it. Then suddenly the Tigers faltered under some offensive pressure, tackling a Sailors player in the box leading to a penalty kick goal and 1-1 tie with 21 minutes left in regulation.
Daniels said the Tigers mustered resolve from there as sophomore Santiago Casco and senior Andrew Martin combined with Gallo for mastery in the midfield. It was Casco who earned a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box for Martin with fewer than five minutes left in the game. The senior captain curved an effort around Steamboat’s defensive wall and hit the post before redirecting away from goal.
The Tigers, though, fought hard to keep possession in the Sailors end. And with regulation ticking down, they volleyed three shots on frame. Two of them were saved by Sailors defenders on the line before the final on-frame effort from Casco was saved by Steamboat’s recovering goalkeeper.
With both teams fired up heading into overtime, the Tigers possessed the ball first, but tired legs eventually got the best of them as the game transitioned into a second overtime. The physical and mental fatigue got to the Tigers as the Sailors earned a foul. The Sailors sent a difficult-to-save shot past Tigers junior goalkeeper Trevor Hodges, who made eight saves on a night where he didn’t relent a goal in non-set-piece play.
“Him and my back line — my goodness,” Daniels said. “I don’t need to coach anything up, defensively.”
Daniels said the Tigers will have a weekend away from soccer to recharge their batteries before returning Tuesday to prep for their next game Sept. 11 at Denver West. Once that tilt comes, Daniels said the next step the side needs to take is to grind out more offensive opportunities in the final attacking third, even if they aren’t as perfect or beautiful as the boys might like.
“We’re trying to play a million-dollar ball in that final third,” Daniels said. “We’re not as courageous as I’d like us to be to beat one more defender to get in there. As a coach, you’ve got to be better creating opportunities in training to showcase that sort of bravery and courage so when you’re in a game you take those moments.”
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