Young Summit girls soccer team full of potential

New head coach Jotwan Daniels excited to lead team after 2020 cancellation

Kelley Duffy, from left, Olyvia Snyder, Ellie Sudduth and Ella Snyder play during the Summit High School varsity girls soccer practice at Summit High School in Breckenridge on Wednesday, May 5.
Photo by Joel Wexler / Rocky Mountain.Photography

Jotwan Daniels on Thursday will get his first chance to coach a squad he’s led for more than a year: the Summit High School varsity girls soccer team.

“We finally get our opportunity,” Daniels said. “There was a lot of excitement and a big chunk of positive energy going into last year’s season, and then it came to a halt. I’m really excited in my second year as head coach to finally get the chance to see this team play.”

Daniels was named the head coach of the Summit High School varsity girls soccer team last year and coached through preseason practice until the season was canceled in response to the pandemic. The announcement came before the Tigers — and a strong group of 2020 seniors, including Breanna Roach, Shannon O’Brien, Anna Tomlinson and Nicole Kimball — got the chance to play their first game.

With those seniors gone, Summit boasts a mixture of veteran leaders and young talent with plenty of potential across the pitch. Daniels said that mix is exemplified by the two captains voted to lead the team: Camille Thompson and Katie Clapp.

Thompson has an easygoing presence that Daniels said brings a quiet confidence and calmness to the field. Daniels said Thompson’s versatility means she can help the team at almost any position on the pitch, though he expects to lean on the savvy soccer mind to anchor Summit’s defensive identity.

“But she allows for a coach like me to use her in the back third, middle third or attacking third of the pitch,” Daniels said.

Thompson said Clapp and central midfielder Kelley Duffy have been the two standout sophomores from an underclassmen group Daniels raves about. Daniels said Duffy brings her point-guard presence from the basketball court to the soccer field.

Daniels described Clapp as a footballer, the kind of player who loves the sport of soccer and plays on club teams in the offseason. One of the most skilled players on the team, Daniels said Clapp will most likely be the team’s engine this year, playing from box to box as the team’s No. 8 attacking midfielder.

Summit High varsity girls soccer schedule

The Summit High School girls soccer team practices at Summit High School in Breckenridge on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. | Photo by Joel Wexler / Rocky Mountain.Photography

• May 6 at Eagle Valley, 6 p.m.

• May 8 at Palisade (Longs Park), 11 a.m.

• May 14 vs. Palisade, 6 p.m.

• May 15 at Battle Mountain, 11 a.m.

• May 20 vs. Eagle Valley, 6 p.m.

• June 1 vs. Glenwood Springs, 6 p.m.

• June 3 at Steamboat Springs, 6 p.m.

• June 8 at Glenwood Springs, 6 p.m.

• June 9 vs. Battle Mountain, 6 p.m.

• June 12 vs. Steamboat Springs, 11 a.m.

• June 16: first round of state playoff

“She can also play a No. 10 and be creative on the ball, or she can play forward, I but think she’s better suited as that midfield engine,” Daniels said.

Clapp said she thinks she can also bring leadership and passion to the squad this season and commended Daniels for his contagious, positive leadership.

“I’ve never had a coach who cares so much about their players and is so happy to be out on the field with everyone,” Clapp said. “It’s truly his passion, which I think brings the entire team up.”

Clapp said she expects the team’s strengths this season to be its tenacity and willingness to play together. Daniels said this inexperienced yet athletic group will lean on those traits as they rebuild and grow together in his maiden season as coach.

Daniels said seniors Summit will look to to lead will also include central defender Andi Bierbaum, who Daniels said brings a steely toughness similar to Thompson. Senior Logan Gaspard brings adept movement, with or without the ball, to the Tigers’ attacking third. Daniels said senior Abigail Wineland will bring pace and power to central forward, and senior Maclean Donovan will be a mentally strong player who can plug into multiple positions.

As for talented sophomores, though Summit is without Anna Garvert due to an ACL injury, Joselin Roque will bring an extremely athletic and crafty style to the right and left back positions. And Maggie Barggren will start immediately at outside back as a player Daniels is familiar with from coaching her in her middle school years.

Ashley Misch dribbles the ball as Nina Melenuik defends during the Summit High School varsity girls soccer team practice at Summit High School in Breckenridge on Wednesday, May 5.
Photo by Joel Wexler / Rocky Mountain.Photography

The coach also said Ruby Gerard and Brielle Quigley are seniors who will contribute.

In net, the Tigers are trying to replace a pair of 2020 senior standouts in Tomlinson and O’Brien. Daniels said senior Grace Rogers will start in net this season after missing a chance to break into varsity-level action last year as a freshman. Daniels also recruited basketball player junior Sarah Pappas to try her hand at goalkeeping.

“She’s starting to show a lot of promise,” Daniels said.

The coach said the team will play a defense-first, counterattack strategy looking to feed strikers up top, including expected junior starter Olyvia Snyder. Snyder’s sister Ella, a freshman, also figures to contribute to this young group of talented athletes, which Daniels said is doing its best to buy into the vision he has to build the program over time.

“We’re green. Nobody on this team has varsity experience,” Daniels said. “So we will play our hand to the best of our abilities.”

The Summit High School varsity girls soccer team practices at Summit High School in Breckenridge on Wednesday, May 5.
Photo by Joel Wexler / Rocky Mountain.Photography

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