Summit High nabs girls soccer head coach to lead boys team into future
Tigers coach and players set state playoff goal
After his debut season coaching the Tigers girls soccer team last fall, Summit High School soccer is doubling down on passionate head coach Jotwan Daniels, who will lead the boys this fall.
Daniels is excited to see what the talented group, who went 4-6 last spring under former head coach Tommy Gogolen, can do with a quick turnaround to a 13-game regular season this fall. Led by Tigers returning veterans Andrew Martin, Owen Gallo and Gannon Heisler, Daniels thinks this year’s team has the potential to qualify for the state tournament, which the coach said will be an annual goal.
“I felt I owed it to my school and community,” Daniels said about coaching. “It’s hard to find good coaches up here for a variety of different reasons. It dawned on me while it can be a challenge, it’s a challenge I think I’m suited to handle. It’s a unique opportunity to create one Summit soccer program.”
Gogolen was a coach with the Tigers for 13 years and was the head coach for the past decade. The Tigers reached their high point under Gogolen during a stellar 2014 season when Summit roared to an undefeated Western Slope League championship and a 15-2-1 record overall, including the final eight of the state playoff. Gogolen said he resigned from his post to spend more time with his family, including his 5-week-old son, Tommy III.
“Jotwan’s going to do a fantastic job with that program,” Gogolen said. “He’s an awesome, awesome coach, and he’s going to do very well with those guys.”
The guys Daniels will have at his disposal include a talented, cohesive midfield and forward attack. That includes senior captain Martin, who organized weekly touch sessions and games at Summit High and local parks to keep the team playing together. And that was despite a lingering groin injury Martin is taking into this fall season.
“Andrew took that initiative,” Heisler said. “He posted on Facebook, got everyone together, and a bunch of people came — all ‘cause of Andrew.”
While Martin and the Tigers prepped for the season among themselves, it lingered into late July who would coach them in the fall. When the Tigers found out it would be Daniels, their fear for the future dissipated.
Aug. 24 at Battle Mountain, 6 p.m.
Aug. 31 vs. Frederick, 6 p.m.
Sept. 2 at Steamboat Springs, 6 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Denver West, 11 a.m.
Sept. 14 at Vail Mountain School, 4 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Eagle Valley, 6 p.m.
Sept. 21 vs. Battle Mountain (homecoming), 6 p.m.
Sept. 23 at Salida, 6 p.m.
Oct 5 vs. D’Evelyn at Jeffco Stadium, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. VMS, 6 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Rifle, 4 p.m.
Oct. 19 at Eagle Valley, 6 p.m.
Oct. 21 vs. Steamboat Springs, 6 p.m.
Oct. 26 State championships first round
“I really like the vibe Coach Daniels is bringing to the team,” Martin said. “It feels more compact. He brings passion and excitement. He’s always really big about getting better every day and being better than you were yesterday — things like that.”
Martin and Heisler said the team’s overall buy-in has been good since Daniels last week whittled down a talented group of 67 student-athletes to 26 players on the varsity side and 23 on junior varsity. Daniels said the varsity group consists of several top players who are still hobbled from a spring season that was delayed from fall 2020 to spring 2021 in response to COVID-19.
Despite that, and a lacking overall team fitness level coming off summer, Daniels said the team is currently playing the game at a high level.
“These boys can play — flat out,” the coach said. “There’s lots of quality on this team. They have talent and ability we’re looking to now elevate.”
Daniels said the team looked really dangerous and technically skilled when attacking forward during Tuesday’s preseason scrimmage at Middle Park. That included dispatching Heisler, a player who played defender and central forward last season, to central attacking midfield. Daniels said it’s an example of how he feels the quality of players like Martin, Heisler, Gallo and junior Fabi Cuevas will be the offensive engine come the season. Daniels added that sophomore Santiago Casco in his first year on varsity should benefit that group, as well, potentially from the central defensive midfield position.
On defense, Collin Doran will anchor a solid Tigers back line with his steely reserve and physical presence. Daniels said he should also be a scoring threat on free and corner kicks. In net, raw junior Trevor Hodges is the leading candidate to start thanks to his athleticism and length.
With their season-opener scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24, at Battle Mountain, Summit will have an archrival on tap to start the Daniels era.
Martin, no matter how hobbled, has one goal for his final go-round:
“To compete in a playoff game,” he said.
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