Summit edges Huskies, 1-0, on Senior Night
EDWARDS — Summit County soccer put an exclamation point on its campaign for seeding in next week’s state playoffs with a spectacular 1-0 win at Battle Mountain in Edwards in Thursday’s regular season finale for both teams.
The $64,000 question is “Will Battle Mountain be joining the Tigers?”
Summit had already earned its first Western Slope title since joining the circuit, and with it an automatic berth. Thursday night, there was extra motivation.
“We wanted to see if we could get a home game for the playoffs,” Tigers coach Tommy Gogolen said. “We thought if we could get a win tonight that it would be hard for us not to get a home game. We don’t really care much about rankings. We had the league wrapped up, but we wanted to play home in the playoffs.”
Welcome home, Summit — Wednesday in Farmer’s Korner at a time to be determined, with a 13-1-1 record, the Tigers have to be in the top 16 in Class 4A. The question going into Seeding Sunday is will the Tigers make the top eight (two home games) or better?
“You have to give credit to Summit. They were opportunistic,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “They took the chance they had and they put it away. That’s how to win championships. I thought they were very opportunistic in both games against us. I wish them well in the playoffs. They’re going to be a good representative of our league.”
The Huskies finished 9-5-1, short of 10 wins, which would have made all in Battle Mountain’s camp sleep easier until the seedings come out on chsaa.org on Sunday.
“If you look at all those teams on the bubble, there are not too many of them with nine wins,” Cope said. “There’s not many of them with as many wins against good teams as we have. There’s not many of them with the playoff credentials we’ve had.”
Battle Mountain pressed for that 10th win, but Summit’s defense, led by the sterling keeper Noah Glasco and team co-captain Mitchell Gray, did not yield.
And then the Tigers got a counter. Summit’s Alex Valeta was pulled down just outside the 18 with four minutes left in regulation.
Enter Julien Ekeholm. The junior got the nod to take the free kick. As Ekeholm readied himself, Cope was shouting, “Near post,” or in non-soccer talk, “guard the right post.”
No one covered it.
“I didn’t even hear him,” Ekeholm said of Cope. “I was just in my mind, thinking, ‘Just get it in the net.’ I saw the gap the whole time, and I just had to put it in.”
It went in, and everyone in green and white went home happy.
“It’s great,” Ekeholm said. “It’s an awesome feeling.”
“I think several times this season, we’ve let our concentration lapse at the end of halves and the end of games, and we did that again tonight,” Cope said. “I think we played really, really well for 78 minutes.”
Summit County and its fans will be hitting “refresh” repeatedly on chsaa.org on Sunday to find out whom it will be hosting on Wednesday. The Tigers’ only loss is to No. 2 Classical Academy, which was 14-0 going into its finale on Thursday. Seeing as TCA outscored its opponents, 79-8, a 3-1 loss to those Titans back in September is a badge of honor for Summit.
The Tigers have won 11 straight games since a 2-2 draw at Steamboat on Sept. 9, so home they are at least for the first round. While not binding, the fact that Gogolen’s crew is ranked No. 6 in the CHSAA poll doesn’t hurt either.
The Huskies are hoping to make it 17 straight years in the postseason. Cope, while first and foremost a history teacher at Battle Mountain, also has an advanced degree in soccer bracketology.
He reeled off a bunch of facts — his team’s performance against a stiff nonconference slate (a 2-1 loss to TCA; a 1-0 win at Evergreen, a tie at Montrose), three trips to the state quarterfinals in as many years — as a case for his team to make the 32-team field.
Cope also noted that if the Huskies didn’t make it, CHSAA would be selecting only one team, Summit, from the 4A Slope League.
“It just seems like, when we’re at our best, we’re really good,” Cope said. “I think we’ll be a handful for everyone in the seeding. It would be a shame to not see Battle Mountain in the tournament.”
Thursday was also Senior Night for the Huskies. Owen Riley, Connor Dalbow, Andrew Herrera, Edgardo Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Uriel Lopez, Eli Stephens, Daniel Ortiz, Tony Luevanos and Sands Simonton were all honored at halftime.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.