Although the Salida High School boys’ soccer team lost 2-1 in overtime against the Atlas Preparatory School Thursday, coach Ben Oswald called it, “the best game we played all season.”
Oswald said the snow and sleet in Colorado Springs made it a tough game as well.
The Gryphons scored in the first half, after some of the Spartans got out of position, leaving gaps in the defense, Oswald said.
“At halftime, we switched some players up, moved the strength off our flank and more up the middle, and that’s when the boys started to really turn it up,” Oswald said.
Senior Noah Smith scored for Salida in the second half to tie it up.
Oswald said Smith put up a nice pass to junior Riggs Gorby, then took off racing towards the goal. Gorby made a nice juke and passed it between a pair of defenders back to Smith, who sunk it in the back of the net.
“From then on, we controlled the bulk of the game,” Oswald said.
The game ended 1-1, and Oswald said there was a lot of back and forth, and Salida had a few opportunities, but couldn’t make anything stick.
Atlas was able to get a low, hard shot in against junior goalkeeper Quinn Phillips, who was struggling with the wet, cold weather.
“That shot was devastating for Quinn,” Oswald said. “Last year he made a brilliant save on a penalty kick that moved us into the semi-finals. I’m very proud of how we ended the season.”
Oswald said the senior players were outstanding today.
“Hats off to our senior players. Max Ferguson was outstanding today, as always. Jake Kunst played one of his best games tonight – he is very influential. Noah Smith had his best game of the season. And Kai Brown, he didn’t play much this season due to a back injury, but his support and work with the younger players was very valuable.”
Smith was named man of the match for his goal.
“I know the boys are feeling a bit of sadness, but in my heart as a coach, I’m happy,” Oswald said. “Not happy with the loss, but happy with the boys, happy with the way we played, not just tonight, but all season. We added a new formation at practice (Wednesday), the 4-blob, and the boys really played it well. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Oswald also gave a shout out to his assistant coaches this year, Aaron Dobson and Chad Gorby.
The Spartans finished the season 4-3-2 overall and 3-3 in 3A Tri-Peaks league play.
The Spartans will find out Sunday what their play-off situation is. Oswald said it’s improbable the Spartans will get a spot, due to the changes for this season, with only the top two teams from each league going.
Manitou Springs beat undefeated Lamar Thursday, which sets up a three way tie for first place between Atlas, Lamar and Manitou Springs, each team finishing 5-1.