Summit soccer drops final rivalry game of the season, 5-0
FRISCO — This one could have gotten real ugly without Kyle Wertz.
For most of the season, Summit’s sophomore goalkeeper has been a brick wall in the box, coming up with miraculous digs and deflections in the heat of one-on-one and even two-on-one attacks. He’s kept games from truly getting out of hand — the Tigers have been outshot three-to-one the majority of the season — and he did all he could against a commanding Battle Mountain team on Tuesday night.
But it wasn’t quite enough, even in front of a large and rowdy home crowd. The Tigers lost the final rivalry match of the season 5-0, a slight improvement on the 6-0 rout they suffered on Huskies home turf in September. The loss puts the Tigers at 2-7 in the 4A Western Slope (2-10 overall) with three games remaining, including a season-ending away game with the other cross-county foes, Eagle Valley.
Let’s get back to Wertz. The Battle Mountain match wasn’t the first time he’s come under fire over and over and over. The Tigers have faced league-leading Steamboat Springs (10-2) twice this season and nearly come away with wins both times, losing 2-1 on Sept. 15 and 1-0 on Oct. 6. Steamboat is just as threatening as Battle Mountain on a breakaway, but along with senior defender Ty Michalowski, Wertz kept both games ever-so-close. He now leads the league with 68 saves on the season, which is roughly double the statewide 4A average. Did I mention he’s a sophomore?
On Tuesday, the keeper was the victim of lackadaisical play from his defense and offense. The first half was brutal: the Huskies struck early with a two-on-two goal in the fourth minute, then ended the half with back-to-back goals in less than a minute. The final score came after the keeper had already deflected three other bullets, only to watch a looping blooper manage to sneak past his defender.
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4-0 after 40 minutes. It’s the kind of morale killer that just demolishes a team, but Wertz didn’t let up. He charged Battle Mountain’s two quick forwards, Cody Bahan and Juan Macias, for at least five solo saves in the first half, then did the same in the second (I honestly lost track of his clutch stops after eight). While the Huskies keeper was busy celebrating a non-goal early in the second — he was doing some kind of Euro-style airplane dance when the ref called it back for a blatant offside — Wertz was busy actually protecting the goal and proving that, yes, he came to play.
The rest of his team showed up in the second half, splitting possession just about evenly with Battle Mountain while also managing to outshoot them, 11 to 9. Scrappy Gerson Martinez had three close misses, and Omar Espinoza had a wicked free kick in minute 70 for a heart-pounding series of shots from the box. The game was over by then, but it would’ve been sweet to score at least one against the rivals with pride on the line. I don’t have to tell the Tigers that.
Summit enters the final stretch of the season with two home games, Delta (3-9) on Oct. 17 and Glenwood Springs (7-5) on Oct. 20. They wrap up on Oct. 22 at Eagle Valley. Here’s hoping for at least one win before then.
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