Tigers soccer starts season with fiery 2-0 win against Conifer
Summit vs. Conifer, Sept. 1
1st 2nd Final
Summit 1 1 2
Conifer 0 0 0
There’s something different about this Summit soccer team.
On a wonderfully warm first day of September, the Tigers boys squad dominated Conifer High School in front of a large and loud home crowd for the first win of 2016. It came on the heels of a three-set win from the girls volleyball team on Aug. 25 and a 33-21 win from the football team on Aug. 26, giving the Summit varsity teams an undefeated start to the season. I hate to jinx things by talking about it, but that doesn’t happen often.
The 2-0 final soccer score hardly tells of the rout that could have been. Summit controlled possession from the first minute to the last, taking 11 shots on goal in the first half and a whopping 17 shots on goal in the second. The Conifer Lobos had just four SOG total, only one of which came anywhere near the net. If not for one hell of a talented visiting goalkeeper — Lobos junior Bowen Taylor was an absolute beast in the net — the score easily could have been 5-0, maybe even 6-0.
And that’s exactly what head coach Tommy Gogolen wants to see.
“The keeper kept them in the game, but our boys played fantastic,” Gogolen said. “They didn’t make it easy. They dominated from start to end.”
Dominate, dictate, rule, control — you name it, the Tigers did it. The game started fast and furious with three near misses in the first 20 minutes, plus a shanked penalty kick that should have made things 1-0 even before the sun dipped below the Tenmile Range.
Leading the charge for the Tigers were two varsity veterans: senior Gerson Martinez and junior Conor Craig. It was only fitting that Gogolen’s starting duo paired for a one-two-three goal in the 36th minute, when Craig took advantage of a bobbled ball at midfield to zip past his defender and crank a bullet at the keeper from the left side. Martinez, who by now has learned to use a deceptively small frame to his advantage, came out of nowhere on the right to gather the deflection. He took one smart touch and dropped it back to Craig for an easy swing around the keeper, 1-0.
The Conifer coach screamed for the offsides call, but that’s not how it works on a backwards pass.
“We are the Tigers,” the student section roared, drowning out the coach, “The mighty, mighty Tigers.”
Summit hardly let up in the second half. Craig, Martinez and a slew of midfielders all had shots on goal from just outside the box, which led to an incredible six corner kicks. (How many did Conifer get? Just one — in the first half.) Sophomore Farid Infante even tried for two bicycle kicks on crosses through the box, including one that came dangerously close to the net, or at least closer than a bicycle kick should come in high school soccer. It’s the kind of fiery attack Gogolen wants early in the season, even if it led to a few sloppy passes and rushed plays at midfield.
“This is the best we’ve played in about 16 months,” Gogolen said. “Two to zero is great, but I know they can play even better.”
Conifer’s Taylor was just as good in the second as he was in the first, but, after weathering 25-plus shots, even the best keepers are bound to make a mistake. His came in the 71st minute, after Craig returned from a cramped calf in the 61st minute with his sights set on a second goal. The Lobos defenders were winded — their backfield play looked more like a desperate pinball machine than a coordinated defense — and the Tigers took advantage with a quick throw-in. Senior midfielder Carlos Martinez controlled the ball and dumped it to Craig, who wove through three defenders before sneaking the ball past Taylor’s outstretched hand and into the corner of the net, 2-0.
The Tigers (1-0 overall, 0-0 league) next face Aspen (1-2 overall) in an away non-conference game on Sept. 6. Kick off is at 4 p.m.
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