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Tigers hope to redeem regular season

Jason Starr

FARMER’S KORNER – The regional playoff won’t be as forgiving for the Summit High School girls soccer team as it was last year. But the Tigers believe they are a better team.

So – they hope – the result will be the same today when they travel to Lakewood for a do-or-done regional game against Evergreen in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs. Gametime is 5 p.m., and the winner gets a spot in the 16-team state tournament.

Last year, Summit was the second-place team out of the 4A Metro League and won a regional game at home to make the state tournament. They were seeded last in the state bracket and were manhandled by No. 1 Mullen. The Tigers would love to get that chance again.

It will be tougher this year though. Summit’s regular season did not go exactly as planned, and they ended up with the Metro League’s third-place spot. They play a Cougars team that finished second in the tough 4A Jeffco League and they play on the road.

“We’ve found ourselves in a different situation this spring,” said Summit coach Charlie Krupanszky. “We’ll face a stronger team than we did last year in this round.”

The Cougars finished with a 6-7-1 overall record. They and the Tigers had one common opponent: Ralston Valley. Evergreen split their season series with Ralston; Summit lost 7-0 in the first game of the season.

Krupanszky scouted a Cougars game last week, and was not overwhelmed with anything they did. They do play a flat-back defensive system, the same one used by the Summit boys team. It will tend to open up some longer shots and rebounds, but “it’s still soccer. You don’t turn your game plan upside down,” Krupanszky said.

“The difference is, at midfield, we’ll have to go over the top more, rather than go through them.”

Summit is coming off a loss to Saint Mary’s, which is undefeated and ranked in the top 10 in the state. It wasn’t a bad loss, and it gave the Tigers a taste of tough competition after winning their three previous games.

“Evergreen is going to be like Saint Mary’s, and if we can play like that or even better, then we’ll have a chance,” said sophomore Kate Chapman, Summit’s second-leading scorer.

“We don’t have any huge expectations for (today),” Chapman added. “As long as we play well and do our best, we can come away thinking we’ve had a good season.”

The season had its ups and downs. Some key players missed pivotal games that may have meant the difference between playing at home today or playing at Evergreen, the difference between second place (where the Tigers feel they belong) and third place (where they are). It was a struggle at times for some players to decide between focusing on soccer and enjoying the final semester of their senior years.

“We’re still learning about the program and how to run it,” Krupanszky said. “We need to find a system that supports what (the players) need and supports what the program needs, and that’s what I struggled with this year.”

A win today will ease the memory of those struggles and put the Tigers exactly where they were a year ago: in position to pull off a huge upset in the first round of the state tournament.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at jstarr@summitdaily.com.


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