Today’s quarterfinal a battle of similar teams |

Today’s quarterfinal a battle of similar teams

Summit Daily/Reid WilliamsSummit High School's Kevin Pelen pressures Golden's Ryan Sprackling, forcing the ball out of bounds late in the first half of Saturday's round-of-16 match in Arvada. The Tigers beat Golden 2-1, and take on the 12th-seeded Niwot Cougars today in Longmont..

FARMER’S KORNER – When you get to the state quarterfinals, seeds more or less go out the window – every team is playing well.Such is the case with No. 13 Summit and No. 12 Niwot, a pair of very similar teams on paper which meet today at 3 p.m. at Niwot High School. The winner gets a berth in the 4A semifinals on Saturday.Both teams are coming off thrilling, 1-goal wins. Summit (11-3-3) beat No. 4 Golden in a match for the ages last Saturday, winning 2-1 on the road on Chris Nowakiwsky’s golden goal three minutes into overtime. Niwot (13-4) upset No. 5 Greeley Central 1-0 Saturday night, also on the road, on a Ryan Meske goal.Each team beat its respective regular season league champion to get to the quarters; Greeley Central won the Northern League with a 7-0 record, Golden took the Jeffco League crown at 7-1.

Not surprisingly, both Summit coach Peter Shafroth and Niwot coach Cotton Burden had similar thoughts on the key to today’s match: Keep doing what we’re doing.”Nothing different than most soccer games,” Burden said. “We need to score goals and don’t let any get scored on us.””Just keep playing good defense, and probably score two goals,” said Shafroth.By the numbers, Summit seems slightly stronger defensively, and Niwot could hold an edge at the other end of the field. The Tigers have scored 36 goals and given up 14; the Cougars boast a 55-18 goal differential.

Summit enters the match with a 4-2-3 road record; Niwot has played to a 7-2 mark at home.The Cougars could be a bit hotter going in, with a 7-match winning streak and 17-2 scoring margin over that span. But Summit is playing as well as it has all year, its talent on both ends of the field shining through.Their lone common opponent this year was Cheyenne Mountain. Summit tied the Indians 1-1 in an early season tournament in Colorado Springs, while Niwot lost 3-2 when the two teams met in the Springs a week later.Burden, Niwot’s 11th-year coach who has a second home in Blue River, said that while he knows nothing about the Tigers, he always respects “mountain teams” for their athletes. “You just never know what they’re going to bring,” he said.

On that note, Summit’s talented athletes are “psyched and focused,” Shafroth said. And if Summit plays to its potential, said the coach, “I think we’ll win. I think we’re the better team.”Summit made the round of 16 last year before losing to eventual state champion Lewis-Palmer (now a 5A school). Niwot advanced to the quarters before falling to Liberty, this year’s No. 1 seed in the 4A tourney.The winner of today’s match between Summit and Niwot will play the winner of the Liberty-Broomfield match Saturday at 4:45 p.m. in Colorado Springs.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at

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