Tigers soccer ends regular season with huge win, awaits seeding for playoffs
Summit again heads to overtime with Steamboat Springs, this time winning 2-1
The Summit Tigers soccer team is playoff bound after a monumental win against the Steamboat Springs Sailors in overtime.
“It felt like a heavy-weight boxing match in many ways,” coach Jotwan Daniels said after the game. “The game had a degree of physicality and a whole bunch of competitiveness making it feel like a playoff game atmosphere.”
The Tigers and the Sailors had a true defensive battle in the first half. Daniels said the Summit boys were trying to feel out Steamboat in the first 10 minutes of the game, much like how a boxer feels out their opponent in the early rounds of a boxing match.
Both defenses shut out the other until about the last third of the first half, when both offenses started to create some opportunities. The Tigers had some chances in their offensive zone close to the net, but the Sailors goalkeeper made some big saves to keep the score 0-0 going into the second half.
In the second half, the game started to heat up. For the Tigers, the double-overtime loss to the Sailors on Sept. 2 was still at the forefront of their minds.
The Tigers scored the first goal in the high-pressure game after junior forward Fabian Cuevas received a sharp, diagonal pass from sophomore midfielder Santiago Casco and put it away.
Casco played through an ankle injury suffered during the game against Eagle Valley on Tuesday, Oct. 19.
“We weren’t sure Santiago was going to be able to play, but he got taped up, and he made it hard for me to take him out of the game,” Daniels said.
After the goal put the Tigers up 1-0, Steamboat increased its physicality.
“There was a lot of strong challenges from Steamboat, lots of close 50/50 balls, and we eventually folded under the pressure,” Daniels said.
Summit failed to clear a ball from Steamboat’s offensive front, which resulted in the ball getting lofted to the back corner, where a strike made its way over junior goalkeeper Trevor Hodges, evening the score 1-1.
The score remained tied for the remainder of the second half despite both teams having chances to score game-winners. The goalies on both teams made miraculous saves to force the two 4A Western Slope foes to duel it out in overtime once again.
In overtime, the Tigers kept steady pressure on the Sailors, allowing the Sailors very few chances offensively.
Eventually, the ball found Cuevas, who was able to slide a pass to junior Owen Gallo, who sent the ball into the net for the Tigers to win 2-1 in overtime.
“I saw Fabian running down the wing, so I moved to the box because I knew he would feed me the ball since I’ve played with him for many years,” Gallo said. “Once Fabian passed to me, I was focused on getting my foot on the ball and striking through. After the goal went in, it was awesome. … I just ran to my teammates and celebrated at the middle of the field.”
Summit’s win over Steamboat and its four-game win streak to close out the season is enough to send Summit to the Colorado High School Athletic Association 4A state soccer playoffs.
The Tigers will not know where they will be seeded until all other regular season games are wrapped up Saturday, Oct. 23, and the playoff seeding takes place Monday, Oct. 25.
“We are not trying to get too ahead of ourselves in thinking that we did anything too big by qualifying,” Daniels said. “The next step is, now can we win a playoff game to keep this momentum going?”
The Tigers will have a light training session Saturday and will start preparing early next week for their playoff opponent.
“We are looking to continuing to prove to teams that records mean nothing and that our team’s hearts are in the right spot, our mentality is where it needs to be,” Daniels said. “And if teams think it’s going to be an easy game, they’re going to be mistaken. We are coming to play.”
The Tigers’ win over the Sailors rounds out their regular season record to 8-6-1 overall and 2-5-1 in the 4A Western Slope league.
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