Summit never finds momentum in loss to Palisade |

Summit never finds momentum in loss to Palisade

Summit vs. Palisade

Score 1st 2nd Final

Summit 0 0 0

Palisade 0 2 2

FRISCO — It takes the Lady Tigers about two goals just to get warmed up. Too bad those two goals usually aren’t theirs.

On a greybird Saturday morning, the Summit (0-1) girl’s soccer team faced off against a fast but beatable Palisade (1-0) team in the second home game of the regular season. After holding the Bulldogs to 0-0 in the first half — barely — the Tigers let two goals slip in the tenth and eleventh minutes of the second half to break the scoring fast.

Palisade’s heartbreaking double-tap in less than a minute was enough to spur the home team into action — they played most of the first like dead women walking — but it wasn’t quite enough to find consistent momentum. Or the net: The game ended with a Palisade win, 2-0, putting Summit at 0-2 on the season.

“We took two plays off and they scored twice,” head coach Tommy Gogolen said after the game. “But Palisade is a great team and we battled them hard. I’m proud of these girls.”

True, Summit was facing an uphill battle before the game began. Palisade is one of the strongest teams in the 4A Western Slope — they beat Grand Junction Central 4-0 in the season opener — along with regular powerhouse club Battle Mountain. The Tigers took a moral victory against the Huskies at the first home game on Thursday, a 2-4 loss that was their best showing against their rivals in seven years, and so they entered the Palisade game ready to keep the ball, uh, rolling.

Or at least that was the plan. Palisade dominated the first half in just about every area that mattered: possession (roughly 80-20 in their favor), shots on goal (12 to Summit’s 2) and overall energy. Like the rivalry match against Battle Mountain, the entire Summit line waited a solid 50 minutes to find a little pep in its collective step.

That is, everyone except for Summit goalkeeper Lexi VanderHoeven. The senior has been the team’s not-so-secret weapon and saving grace in both home games, a veteran keeper with an eye for where to be, when to be there and how to make clutch stops — even when she’s getting little or no support from her mids and forwards.

VanderHoeven’s consistency seems to be rubbing off on her defense. The keeper stole two would-be breakaway goals in the first from Palisade’s most dangerous duo, forwards Samantha Feller and Nicole Harkreader, and then safely guided her backfield through blistering attack after attack on every corner kick. That’s one sign of a solid (if sometimes lucky) defense: In five tries, Palisade never found the net on a corner kick.

Now it’s time for Summit to find consistency on all ends and sides of the field. Take a look at possession: Although the Tigers split the ball nearly even in the second half, they rarely took advantage of both sidelines, instead letting Palisade decide when and where to switch the field. It’s almost as if the Tigers are still playing on gym hardwood instead of outdoor turf — maybe a natural side effect of practicing inside for most of the season so far. Still, they’re forgetting half the field, and Gogolen has taken notice.

“We need to move the ball as a unit,” Gogolen said. “We’re just not finding that yet.”

It comes down to the middle of the field. If the Tigers want to maintain possession and capitalize on breakaways — they have the speed and toughness for both, as evidenced by a penalty-ridden second half for both teams — the mids and sweeper need to slow the pace, take two (or even three) touches and look for passing lanes, rather than booting balls on first touch in hopes that sophomore forward Tanner McCann can make something happen. And it definitely can’t wait until the team is already in the hole by two.

The Tigers have another tough matchup on March 15 when they travel to Steamboat Springs to face the 1-0 Sailors. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.

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