Summit scraps with undefeated Steamboat for 0-2 loss at home
Summit vs. Steamboat Springs
Score 1st 2nd Final
Summit 0 0 0
SSHS 1 1 2
FRISCO — What a difference two weeks makes. Almost.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Summit girl’s soccer team (0-5-1 overall, 0-4-1 league) battled snow, sun, Sailors and snow again in a tight game against the undefeated Steamboat Springs squad (6-0 overall, 5-0 league). The Tigers kept things close, and, on more than one occasion, nearly found the pinball and breakaway goals they needed to shock the deeper, faster, more technically savvy Sailors.
Only it wasn’t to be. Like most games this season — even the hard-fought 0-0 draw against Eagle Valley on March 22 — the home team failed to find the net after a full 80 minutes and lost to Steamboat for the second time in two weeks, 0-2.
But like I was saying, what a difference two weeks makes. On March 15, the Tigers and Sailors met for the first time this season in Steamboat, where the perpetual postseason threat made quick work of the young Summit squad in a 5-0 rout. Steamboat ran and passed and shot all over Summit that day, adding insult to injury when freshman, sophomores and seniors scored goals. They picked the Tigers to pieces and were looking for more of the same after a definitive 5-0 win against that other 4A Western Slope powerhouse, Battle Mountain, on March 22.
Only this Summit team is learning, and learning fast. They extinguished the majority of Steamboat attacks in the best way possible: by controlling the ball at midfield.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the Summit midfielders are operating like a well-oiled machine — yet — and head coach Tommy Gogolen says his team still has plenty of work to do if they want to consistently get on the board, from mids to forwards to defense. But, when the Tigers entered halftime down by just one goal, it wasn’t through sheer, dumb luck.
“The girls are getting better,” Gogolen said. ‘They just have to finish. We had scuffles in front of the net, everyone was hanging on (and) we’re on the brink of success. It’s just a matter of putting it together.”
Possession is the first piece of the scoring puzzle, and on Tuesday, the Summit girls found and held onto the ball longer than they have all season. Senior mid Katie Sullivan and sophomore counterpart Haleigh Lecklitner showed their teeth, fighting for 50/50 balls on goal kicks and stifling more than a few Steamboat drives. Just about everyone in the Summit backfield took two (and more!) touches when they had time — seriously, that’s a big part of a haphazard midfield — while another senior-sophomore duo, forwards Paloma Arredondo and Tanner McCann, patiently waited for breakaway chances.
The most promising came in the 50th minute, when the Summit mids linked a few passes at midfield, drawing the Steamboat defenders out of position to the bench sideline. Sullivan then fed it up to a waiting McCann, who beat her defender for a one-on-one matchup with the gutsy Sailors keeper, Leah Rowse. Seriously — she’s the kind who likes playing at least 20 yards off the baseline. She’s a dream for a fast forward with a pinpoint shot and McCann had her chance, but Rowse’s a tall keeper with even faster hands and gobbled up the ball.
Summit’s next-best scoring opp came in the final 15 minutes, not long after Steamboat sunk its second goal on a string of corner kicks. The Tigers responded with a string of their own, with McCann placing near-perfect banana passes on the 10-yard line. The Tigers got scrappy and crushed the box, over and over like goal-box pinball, but Rowse and her defenders found the lucky touches and cleared the ball after a few heart-pounding seconds.
“It’s needs to be a collective effort of execution,” Gogolen said. “And that’s not just our forwards — it’s our midfield as well. We have to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Luckily, the back half of the Tigers season promises to be easier than the front half. They’ve already played Steamboat and Battle Mountain twice, leaving two games each with beatable teams like Delta (1-5 overall) and Glenwood Springs (1-3 overall). Things could get interesting.
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