Summit High School soccer advances to second round of the playoffs after defeating Mead High School in overtime
The Summit High School Tigers soccer team has played its fair share of tense games over the course of the season. The Tigers home playoff game against the Mead High School Mavericks was no different on Friday, Oct. 28.
The game was not decided in 80 minutes, but rather leaked into overtime where the Tigers’ experience in high pressure games showed. They won the game 1-0 in overtime and advanced to the second round of the 4A state soccer tournament for the first time since 2014.
The first half was dominated by tension-filled minutes. Both teams exchanged possessions while trying to size the other team up. Summit came into the match with the better playoff seed, ranked 14th in the 32-team state playoff tournament. Mead came in as the No. 19 seed.
After seven straight minutes of both teams trying to find an advantage, Summit made two shots on goals and started to put the Mead defense on its heels. The Tigers continued to prowl for a goal, but the Mavericks kept the game scoreless.
Mead’s forwards vocally asked the rest of the team to up the intensity 15 minutes into the first half in order to threaten Summit’s junior goaltender Abdoul Kane. The call for action was met two minutes later when the Mavericks put their first real chance on net. Kane was able to put himself in front of the shot however, and the game remained tied at 0-0.
Sophomore Juan Varon, senior Alex Espinoza and senior captain Owen Gallo led efforts down the field toward the goal and kept Summit in control of the game.
Toward the tail end of the first half, both teams fired shots that had a chance to make it into the back of the net, but either the shots went just wide of the net or the ball was stopped by the team’s goalie. The score remained tied 0-0 at the end of 40 minutes.
“It was a true playoff game from that first half,“ head coach Jotwan Daniels said. “I felt like both teams did not want to give an inch. We created some good opportunities, I wish we put a couple of them away but it’s the playoffs and there is another element of pressure.”
The second half featured similar play to the first half. Both teams battled for a goal and started to grow frustrated while in pursuit for one.
The 80 minutes of standard play was not enough to decide a victor, so the game advanced to a 10-minute overtime period.
Summit came out ready to strike. Around five minutes into the overtime period, senior Fabian Cuevas scored the game winning goal off a one-on-one scenario to advance the Tigers to the second round of the playoffs.
“I would argue we have been built for a run like this,” Daniels said of the win. “We have been built for moments where it has been tight — in overtime — but if we can be composed, focused and continue that belief in what we do and belief in each other we will get our just rewards.”
Gallo and fellow senior captain Evan Reil spoke early on in the season that the team wanted to win the 4A Western Slope league title, host a home playoff game and advance to the second round of the playoffs. The win over Mead checked off another box for Summit after winning the league title last week.
“There is no sweeter life lesson than what we are living through right now,” Daniels said. “You set your goals, you adjust when you need to. You are going to have your highs and your lows. How special is it to see this team achieve their goals every step of the way?”
Summit will now advance to face the No. 3 seed, Cheyenne Mountain High School, on Wednesday, Nov. 2, in Colorado Springs. The Cheyenne Mountain Red-Tailed Hawks had a regular season record of 12-1-2 and beat No. 30 seed Holy Family High School, 1-0 on Friday night in overtime.
The Tigers will spend the next few days preparing for the game after a hard fought victory over Mead.
“Rankings don’t matter,” Daniels said. “If we do our job, if we play with love and we play for each other, anything is possible.”
A kickoff time between the two teams has yet to be decided for Wednesday. The winner will face either Silver Creek High School or Northridge High School in the quarterfinals.
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