Years of build-up lead to this |

Years of build-up lead to this

FARMER’S KORNER – The Summit High School boys soccer team could not have asked for a better year to move into the Class 4A Jeffco League. The Tigers have been targeting this as their break-out season for at least four years. That’s because the soccer class of 2003 is numerous and talented, and its core has been playing together since middle school.

The Tigers, who move from the Metro to the more challenging Jeffco League this year, will come at teams with 11 seniors and more than 70 percent of last year’s starting lineup.

“We’ve worked so hard for this year,” said senior defenseman Conor McGahey. “Everyone is psyched and ready to play, and we’re trying to live up to what everyone has built us up to be.”

Based on the preseason and years of expectation, the Tigers think they are better than last year’s team, which made the state tournament for the first time in coach Peter Shafroth’s tenure. Shafroth is going into his fourth year as head coach.

It all starts with returning goalkeeper Casey Anderson, who is primed to build on a solid junior season, and the defense, long the strength of this team.

Summit lost defender Alex Cole to graduation, but senior Gary Wilson is ready to step in after filling in last year when Cole and McGahey were injured.

“When we put him in (last year), we didn’t feel like we were losing any talent on our defense,” said fourth-year assistant coach Justin Turri (Shafroth was not available for comment Thursday). “We’re very comfortable with him back there.”

The other three defenders – seniors McGahey, Kyle Lord and Daniel Kincaid – started last year. Instead of the flat-back, offsides-trap system the team has used defensively for three years, Summit will put Kincaid at stopper and play McGahey, Lord and Wilson behind him.

“By pushing Daniel Kincaid up, he’s gonna fill the gap between the midfield and the defense and hopefully stop a lot of attacks before they get to our last line of defense,” Turri explained. “We felt like a lot of attacks last year came straight down the middle, and once they beat our center midfielders … they would have about 20 yards of free space before they got hit by a defender.”

Todd Wegner will anchor the midfield as he did last year, alongside fellow senior Todd Heller. But there will be some change at the midfield wings. Both Andy Toczek and Chris Smith have graduated, and the Tigers trot out sophomores Chris Nowakiwsky and Aaron George to see what they can do at the position. It’s the one real transition area on the team.

“The main difference is not having played with them in the past,” Wegner said. “None of us know how they play in games or how they react to pressure. We knew how (Toczek and Smith) played, so that’s the main difference, just getting familiar with them and them getting familiar with us.”

Turri said the sophomore duo is more offensive-minded than its predecessors.

The wildcard, or some would say the ringer, for the Tigers is Brazilian exchange student Guilherme Esteves. He’s a left-footed goal-scorer, and the Tigers have liked what they’ve seen of him since he showed up for practice Monday.

“Every year we tend to get a transfer that plays soccer and they always are pretty good,” Turri said. “I think he’s gonna be the best one we’ve had in the four years I’ve been coaching.”

Esteves will eventually work his way into a starting forward spot alongside Jorge Infante, which will bump one of last year’s leading scorers, David Payne, into George’s outside midfield spot.

One of last year’s forwards, Matt Kimmel, graduated, and back-up Anje Sramek is no longer at SHS.

The Tigers open the season today at the Cheyenne Mountain Tournament in Colorado Springs. Over the weekend they will see defending 4A champion Liberty and some of the teams expected to contend in the Jeffco League.

Summit’s first home game is Sept. 9 against Kent Denver, and league play begins Sept. 13 in Arvada against Ralston Valley.

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

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