Pile up

Salida High School junior Kai Brown, top left, flies into a crowd of Summit Tigers and tries to get his head on the ball Thursday at home. The Spartans won the soccer match, 2-1.

Strong defense helped the Salida High School boys’ soccer team take down Summit 2-1 in a tight game to stay undefeated Thursday at home.

“That was a very good win for us,” said Salida head coach Ben Oswald.

Oswald said the whole team did a good job keeping the ball in front of them while its back four “was exceptional” in the contest

Salida’s back four included senior Colby Pitts, junior Kai Brown, junior Max Ferguson and senior Nico Wilson; they kept Summit from getting many clean looks in the game.

The midfield, however, is where a lot of the game was played.

“It was a real battle in the midfield,” Oswald said. “Summit had some exceptional midfielders.”

Salida created several good scoring opportunities in the first half but had a couple of hard shots saved while the rest missed high or wide.

About two minutes into the second half Salida got onto the scoreboard first.

After a big punt from Summit’s goalie, Pitts won the ball and controlled it with his first touch. Then, seeing Summit’s goalie up the field, he blasted a long, high shot with his next touch that went over the goalie’s head and into the goal to put Salida up 1-0.

“He saw the keeper off of the line and just hit it,” Oswald said. “What impressed me was his ability to take it out of the air with his first touch and shoot with his second.”

Both teams had some good chances after that. Summit hit the post. Then sophomore Flyn Brown took a pass from senior Bowman Russell and juked by a defender to get a shot off, but it was saved.

Late in the game Brown scored. He received a pass and got behind Summit’s defense but was taken down from behind in the goal box. He buried the ensuing penalty kick to put the Spartans up 2-0.

SHS sophomore goalie Quinn Phillips also made some big saves, including one late on a hard shot through a lot of bodies.

“He was at full stretch to push it out,” Oswald said. “He made two saves at critical times.”

Summit scored in the final minute of the game, on its fourth corner kick in about two minutes, to keep from getting shut out, but Salida held on.

Salida is now 4-0 overall with three wins against Class 4A squads and the other against defending 2A champ Crested Butte.

“It was really enjoyable watching them play today,” Oswald said. “You could tell it was tense out there, but we played with a lot of confidence.”

Oswald named Pitts and sophomore Riggs Gorby co-men of the match.

“Riggs stepped up in every role I put him in today and made things happen,” Oswald said. Pitts anchored the defense in addition to scoring.

Salida’s junior varsity battled back from a 4-1 deficit to tie the game but eventually fell 5-4.

Next, Salida will play its first Class 3A foe of the season at 6 p.m. Thursday when it hosts Coal Ridge at the high school stadium.

“We’re hoping to get bigger support not only from the adult community but also from the student body,” Oswald said. “These guys are great representatives of the school and we want to show them off.”