Summit High School boys’ soccer coach hopes competition for playing time proves positive
BRECKENRIDGE — In all his years coaching the Summit High School soccer, Tommy Gogolen is well aware of the differences each new season presents.
Some years, proven commodities return at crucial positions. That was the case last year, when Gogolen knew seniors Farid Infante and Ismael Valenzuela would be his two primary strikers through a season that ended with a 6-7-2 record.
Then there are seasons like this upcoming one, when Gogolen is unsure who his top players will be.
Eventually, the cream will rise to the top.
“I don’t have it figured out just yet,” Gogolen said before practice Friday. “I don’t think the guys have it figured out either. But it’s good. It’s preseason.
“Tomorrow will be a good opportunity to get us to go ahead and try some different formations, to see what is best suited for this Summit team this year,” he said about a Saturday scrimmage against Vail Mountain School.
Sept. 12: at Salida, L, 2-1
Sept. 17: vs. Battle Mountain, L, 5-0
Sept. 21: at Palisade, W, 5-4
Sept. 26: at Steamboat Springs, W, 3-2
Sept. 28: at Colorado Springs Christian Academy, 11 a.m.
Oct. 1: at Eagle Valley, L, 3-2, OT
Oct. 3: vs. Glenwood Springs, W, 1-0
Oct. 8: at Battle Mountain, L, 4-0
Oct. 12: vs. Palisade, L, 4-2
Oct. 15: at Glenwood Springs, T, 1-1, 2OT
Oct. 17: vs. Eagle Valley, W, 4-1
Oct. 22: vs. Steamboat Springs, L, 5-4, 2OT
Oct. 23: vs. Rifle, L, 2-0
Oct. 26: at Rifle, L, 4-1
Though it may take some time for the talent and depth to shake out for the Tigers at the top of the pitch, Summit does return some vital veterans toward the back. It’ll all be anchored by returning senior goalkeeper Chris Orozco. The athletic senior missed the vast majority of last season due to a broken finger and a concussion. Heading into his final campaign for the Tigers, Orozco said he is feeling 100 percent.
“You have to have good agility, be fast, strong, loud — everything,” Orozco said.
Ahead of Orozco, Summit’s back line likely will be one of the Tigers’ strengths this season, at least early on. That’s because Summit returns some experienced pieces there, namely senior right back Aaron Gallo. Much like Orozco, Gallo missed all of last season with a labral tear in his hip. The injury, which occurred just before the Tigers’ first game, required seven months of rehab. After returning to the pitch in April, Gallo should be a steady presence for Summit while also pushing up the right flank to aid the offensive attack.
“It’s definitely interesting this year,” Gallo said. “We have a really young team. We just need to learn how to work together. We have really good skill, and I think we can be really good. We just need to click.”
Clicking may take some time for the Tigers, as Gogolen has one of his biggest rosters in years with 44 total players between varsity and junior varsity. That roster is void of about 10 seniors who departed after a 2018 campaign where Summit mostly played a 4-4-2 format. At the core of last year’s attack was Evan Wolfson, a central midfielder who created many opportunities for Infante and Valenzuela. Stepping in for him this season will likely be junior Ivan Gutierrez, who really came on last season as one of the Tigers’ best in the midfield.
As for that front line, Gogolen said there is so much talent and depth there that some players may try out and stick at positions elsewhere on the pitch as the season unfolds. Heading into the year, though, he’s glad to have six potential options up front as opposed to leaning on an entrenched duo last season.
“I have a lot of hungry guys who are looking to score goals,” Gogolen said. “That’s going to make it competitive within practice, ‘cause it’s not guaranteed.”
A pair of future stars for the Tigers also figure to play into the competition for playing time early this season. For the first time since Wolfson made the varsity as a freshman four years ago, two freshman are on varsity this fall: Gallo’s younger brother, Owen, a midfielder, and forward Fabien Cuevas.
As Summit commences its season at 6 p.m. Monday at Tiger Stadium versus Delta, Gogolen can’t wait to see how it all shakes out.
“They really impressed us coaches,” he said of the two youngsters. “I don’t know if they are going to make a difference just yet, but we are excited about them. We got to work with what we have, and I’m going to put the strongest lineup out there every day. I tell these guys every day it’s essentially another tryout if you want to get on the pitch.”
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