Watch: Summit High boys soccer loses 3-0 in season opener versus Steamboat
Playing soccer surrounded by snow piles up to their shoulders, the Summit High School varsity boys soccer team lost its season-opener to Steamboat 3-0 on Thursday, March 18.
Tigers head coach Tommy Gogolen said the team struggled to shake off the rust from an 18-month layoff away from competitive varsity soccer action, as Steamboat controlled the pace and possession during a first half that ended with a 2-0 Sailor lead.
Steamboat started the scoring at Climax Molybdenum Field at Tiger Stadium in the game’s third minute. The Sailors scored on a firecracker of a one-touch shot from the top of the Summit box after the ball trickled through the center of the Summit back line off of a throw-in. The instant redirect by Steamboat Springs sailed past a diving Wylam Mocatta, Summit’s starting senior goalkeeper in net.
The mistake by the Tigers’ back line was the first error in a half where Summit made mistakes at various spots on the pitch.
“I think there is room for improvement everywhere,” Gogolen said. “We just need to be sharper. It compounded with a couple of key errors. There was a lack of winning 50-50 balls in the very beginning, and we got on our heels and could never recover.”
The Tigers then went down 2-0 in the game’s 17th minute on a penalty kick for the Sailors. Steamboat’s Oliver Caparelli bested Mocatta on the free attempt after he was tripped up just inside the Summit box.
Gogolen said although there was excitement to be back out on the pitch competing against another opponent, the Tigers came out flat early.
“Perhaps we didn’t know we were flat, just because we are so used to just playing at our own speed and with each other,” Gogolen said. “I think Steamboat came out with some more energy and intensity.”
Gogolen said he wants to see more from his veteran leaders. He expects less flat-footed play from such players as Alan and Alex Casillas, Owen Gallo, Andre Ayala and Ivan Gutierrez on Saturday when the Tigers host Battle Mountain (11 a.m.)
Gogolen said Gutierrez, from his defensive midfield position, was a bright spot at times for Summit, succeeding in bits and pieces. He added that the senior midfielder’s fitness needs to improve, as Gutierrez was out on the pitch for the vast majority of Thursday’s game due to a lack of depth in the Tigers midfield.
The health of junior captain Andrew Martin is also holding Summit back some to start the season. The Tigers entered Thursday’s game knowing Martin was battling a leg injury and unsure of what he could provide. Ultimately, Martin darted all over the field, supporting defensively and fueling offensive attacks until he was removed early in the second half.
A Summit High School boys varsity soccer player juggles the ball during an indoor practice at Summit High School on March 16, 2021. The coronavirus pandemic caused the postponement of the fall soccer season. The Tigers begin a 10-game season on Thursday with their first home game against Steamboat Springs. | Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography
“He’s a key component to our midfield and to our team; unfortunately, he couldn’t go much further than just a half,” Gogolen said. “But he does a lot for our team. He’s definitely a leader, and you can definitely tell when he’s in the game with his energy and communication.”
The Tigers also had starting junior wingback Gannon Heisler exit the game with an injury during a second half where Steamboat Springs tacked on a goal moments into the half. The tally came on a wild play — after a punt away from the Tigers box by Mocatta, the Sailors ricocheted the ball immediately 60 yards back into the Tigers box. The ball found the back of the net as the Tigers were out of position too high on the pitch, including Mocatta, who sprinted back in vain unable to catch up to the bouncing ball.
Gogolen said in the second half some of Summit’s substitutes played well, including senior wing forwards Esteban Fernandez, who did his work down the left wing, and Thierno Ly on the right wing.
“I thought the guys coming off the bench were sharp and created opportunities, which is cool to see,” Gogolen said. “It’s going to be competitive out here, even within our own team. I have 20 guys — 20 guys who want to play, which is a great problem to have.”
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