Summit boys soccer excited for future after possession brand of soccer this season

Senior soccer players were honored before the game against Steamboat Springs on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at Summit High School in Breckenridge.
Liz Copan /

BRECKENRIDGE — It’s never easy to wrap up a season when it’s an easy argument that your final record is not indicative of the quality of soccer you played. At 5-9-1, the Summit High School varsity boys soccer team finished the season 38th in the state’s rankings -— missing its first state tournament berth since 2015.

But ask some of the Tigers top Western Slope league rivals — namely Glenwood Springs — and the level of soccer head coach Tommy Gogolen’s boys played this autumn was on par with many state tournament teams.

After a season finale 5-1 loss at Rifle on Saturday, the reality that the Tigers season was over was a hard pill to swallow for team members. That said, the 2019 Tigers will be remembered as a group that matured into playing a pretty brand of possession soccer that lent itself to both a skilled attack and a capability to control the game when necessary.

“I think there was actually a lot of positive this year,” Gogolen said Wednesday. “Frankly, I wasn’t sure what kind of team I was going to have going into the preseason. And it was quickly evident that I had a good team. Yes, we were young, but we were competitive in a lot of games. The goal every year pretty much is to make the state tournament. And we had a shot at it, and I was pretty satisfied we were in the running.”

The Tigers’ heartbreaking 5-4 double-overtime loss to rival Steamboat Springs in the snow at Tiger Stadium last week was a dagger in the hopes of Summit’s postseason chances. And it preceded an equally heartbreaking game 24 hours later, again in the snow, when Rifle broke the game open at the end before winning 2-0.

But those two losses weren’t indicative of a close to the season when Summit defeated rival Eagle Valley convincingly 4-1 on the road while also defeating Glenwood Springs for the program’s first top 10 win in a few years. Summit also drew Glenwood 1-1 in another high-level double-overtime classic.

Those are the games Gogolen will remember from 2019, much like he’ll remember a realization shortly before some of those big results.

“I remember halfway through the season just looking at our assistant coach and saying, ‘We’re good,’” Gogolen said. “We are competitive, and this is a good brand of soccer that we are playing. Yeah, a couple of close games didn’t go our way, which may have decided us getting into the tournament, but that’s OK. I think we can learn from it.”

Summit boys soccer

Moving ahead, Gogolen is hopeful the program can continue to play the fun style of soccer it manifested this year. A lot of that was thanks to the heroics of freshman Owen Gallo and sophomore Andrew Martin in the central midfield and freshman Fabien Cuevas down the flank.

Summit will lose several special players, though, lead by senior goalkeeper Chris Orozco. An athletic veteran when minding the net, Orozco did his best against many elite teams this year to keep Summit in difficult matchups. He did just that through regulation in the heartbreaker to Steamboat, when a lower leg injury forced him out of the contest.

In front of Orozco, senior Aaron Gallo, Owen’s older brother, stepped up in his first season as a center back — an effort Gogolen won’t soon forget.

Then there was the presence senior forward Maschelle Kepple provided for the Tigers this year. Gogolen said everything seemed to “click” for Kepple this fall, as the athletic, strong player provided a scoring target for the rest of Summit’s offense.

“He was fit, and he was hungry to score a lot of goals,” Gogolen said. “And they were goals that mattered in crucial moments.”

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