Tigers deny Ralston in chippy upset bid
FARMER’S KORNER – Their coach said it would’ve been “a killer.” One of their captains said it would’ve been “devastating.”Speaking about the prospect of losing to visiting Ralston Valley on Monday night, Summit High School boys soccer coach Peter Shafroth and fullback Aaron George sighed with relief between their words. They knew their team had narrowly escaped Mr. Upset’s jaws.”This was huge,” Shafroth said after the No. 10 Tigers escaped with a 2-1 win to stay unbeaten in the 4A Jeffco League. “If we’d lost this one we were in real jeopardy.”For a while, it seemed the prospect could become a reality. After a scoreless first half in which Summit’s struggles to finish on solid scoring chances continued, the Mustangs jumped on top 1-0 on a penalty-kick goal by Nick Wheeler five minutes into the second half. The goal left the Tigers visibly worried – heads down, hands on hips, looking at each other for answers.
But Summit’s two senior scoring stars, Kevin Pelen and Chris Nowakiwsky, bailed out the Tigers with a goal apiece midway through the second half. Nowakiwsky’s game-winner in the 65th minute set the stands afire and seemed to evoke a collective exhale from both the players on the field and the SHS bench.The Tigers improved to 5-1-3 overall and 3-0 in league play.”We played down to them. We could’ve won this 4-0,” said George. “To lose to them would’ve just been devastating.”What had been a loosely refereed match in the first half became a whistle fest in the second, as both teams took out their frustrations on their opponents – Summit’s dissatisfaction born of not scoring more on the upstart visitors, and Ralston’s a product of yet another close call. The Mustangs dropped their fourth straight Jeffco match by one goal, falling to 3-6 overall and 1-4 in league.
Three yellow cards were handed out in the chippy second half, two to Summit and one to Ralston. The frustration made it into the stands as well, as the small Mustangs rooting contingent began yelling at the SHS coaches once the Tigers had taken the lead.”I thought they started the aggressiveness because we were outplaying them,” Shafroth said of Ralston’s players. “They started throwing a lot of elbows, and we fell into their trap.”The frustrations boiled over more than once on Summit’s sideline, most notably after SHS senior Andrew Quinonez was taken out by Shafroth for receiving a yellow. Quinonez and Shafroth shouted at each other for a few seconds and Quinonez ripped off his jersey out of what he said afterward was “frustration.” He later returned to the match.Despite a number of near-misses off of beautiful passing plays, none of the three goals included assists. Wheeler’s PK score came after a questionable holding call that George argued should’ve been called as obstruction (which would’ve entailed an indirect free kick, instead of the PK); Pelen – who didn’t start because he walked out of practice on Friday – tied it on a nicely snaked free kick from just outside the box in the 57th minute; and Nowakiwsky banged home a loose rebound soonafter for the winner.
The goals were the sixth each for Pelen and Nowakiwsky.Summit next hosts Evergreen (5-3-1, 3-1 in Jeffco) on Wednesday at 6 p.m., and will play 8-0 Golden in a match rescheduled from last week’s snowstorm either Saturday at 1 p.m. or Monday at 6 p.m.In the same Denver Post rankings that put SHS at No. 10, Golden was ranked No. 9.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at email@example.com.
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