Pelen’s late goal beats Denver Christian
FARMER’S KORNER – With a bruised right foot that kept him on the sidelines for much of Wednesday’s home opener against 3A power Denver Christian, Kevin Pelen did what he always does – he found a way.Using his left foot, the electric Summit High School senior snuck a low shot past Crusaders keeper Jeff Lanser midway through the second half for the only goal of the game as the Tigers stayed unbeaten and escaped with a 1-0 win.The goal was the fifth for the right-footed Pelen in four games. He’s scored four of those goals with his left foot while nursing the injury that had him walking around with one shoe after Wednesday’s game.”I keep playing because we wanna win,” said Pelen, the reigning 4A Jeffco League Player of the Year. “We wanna be champions.”
Summit, which improved to 2-0-2 with the win, beat Denver Christian 2-0 last year and expected a much greater final margin than Wednesday’s one-goal squeaker.”I thought we’d beat them more handily than we did,” said co-captain Aaron George, who led an SHS defense that yielded only two real scoring chances all game.Senior goalie Kylor Dossett was tested on each of those chances, but made easy saves to preserve the goose egg. It was his second shutout of the season.After a first half that saw only one shot on goal for the Tigers, coach Peter Shafroth’s team came out firing in the second half. Moments after Pelen’s score – which came off a feed from junior halfback Michael Infante – sophomore Jeff Spaulding had a shot saved by a diving Lanser and Summit kept up the pressure for the rest of the half.
Still, Shafroth was at least a little concerned after the game with his team’s inability to finish.”It should never have been 1-0,” he said. “Compared to the way we played this weekend (when Summit tied No. 2 Mullen and beat Centaurus 4-0), I didn’t think we played very well.” Playing in front of a sizable home crowd for the first time since entering the year with high hopes for state prominence, the Tigers conceded that nerves may have had something to do with their tentative play at times.”Now we’ve got a lot of people that come to watch us, a lot of expectations,” said Pelen. “We were probably a little nervous. I was.”
It didn’t show in Pelen’s play, especially when it counted most.”He steps up big time,” said Shafroth of his 5-foot-2, jitterbug star. “That’s where the kid is so great: He plays hurt, and he plays incredibly well when he’s hurt. He just rises to the occasion.”As does George, who, along with fellow fullbacks Taggert Spenst, Matt Bowers and Victor Casillas, thwarted a number of could’ve-been Crusaders chances late in the game.”Aaron was huge,” said Shafroth. “He just somehow gets it done every single time.”Throw-ins: The Tigers next play on Saturday at Kent Denver, which advanced to the 3A state championship game last fall … Shafroth coached at Kent before Summit, but SHS has never beaten Kent in the five years since he arrived … It wasn’t all good news for the Tigers on Wednesday. After the game the team arrived to find that its locker room had been robbed; five cell phones were taken and three players reported cash missing from their wallets … Denver Christian dropped to 0-2 with the loss.
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