Owen Gallo attains childhood dream as he steers Summit soccer team to 2nd round of the playoffs
For the first time since 2014, the Summit boys soccer team is in the second round of the 4A state playoffs and is poised to advance to the quarterfinal round.
At the forefront of Summit’s playoff run is senior Owen Gallo, who has been dreaming of this moment since he started playing soccer at the age of 5.
Alongside fellow captain Evan Reil, Gallo has helped lead the 11-senior team to 11 wins this season, including the most recent win against Mead High School in the first round of the playoffs in overtime.
Gallo, 17, has lived in Summit County his entire life. He was born in Frisco and quickly got involved in soccer.
Encouraged by his parents and older brother, Gallo joined the Summit Strikers soccer program and started building connections with the same group of boys that would one day fill out the Summit boys soccer team roster.
“We have played together since we were really young on Strikers and then a bunch of us transferred over to Vail together,” Gallo said. “Getting to play with them my whole life has created a special bond, and I think that has reflected with the success this season.”
Gallo and his fellow senior classmates have not only grown as young men, but they have grown as soccer players. The growth from the players has led to significant growth in the program over the last four years.
When Gallo was a freshman and sophomore on varsity, the team struggled to find its identity and recorded losing seasons. During Gallo’s freshman year, the team went 5-9-1. Then during his sophomore season the team sported a record of 4-6.
Prior to the start of Gallo’s junior year, several things changed for the program. Head coach Jotwan Daniels took over the team in place of Tommy Gogolen, and the core of players that Gallo played alongside his entire career made their way onto the varsity roster.
The result was a groundbreaking season where the team saw eight wins and advanced to the first round of the 4A Western Slope playoffs. Unfortunately, the Tigers would lose to D’Evelyn in the opening round, but the loss fueled Gallo and his teammates during their senior campaign.
“It was a great learning lesson for the returning players as well as the JV players that came up this year,” Gallo said. “The loss was a tough one, but it … taught us what it takes to win in playoffs.”
Invigorated by the early playoff exit last season, Gallo and the seniors took it upon themselves to set the bar high for this season. From the onset of the season, before a cleat had even touched the turf in a game, Summit set three goals for itself: to win the 4A Western Slope league title, secure a home playoff game and advance to the second round of the playoffs. With determination, sacrifices and a commitment to one another, Summit achieved all three.
“It has felt great for our senior class,” Gallo said about accomplishing the goals. “… That is a motivation factor for us to keep winning because we know we can do it.”
A major force on the field the past two seasons has been the connection between Gallo and his senior teammate Fabian Cuevas. The two forwards have been feeding off one another since they were very young and have been on the team since freshman year.
In fact, one of Gallo’s fondest memories over the last four years is from his freshman year when Summit beat Glenwood Springs because of an assist from him to Cuevas.
“That is my favorite memory because it went to show how the rest of our high school careers went as both of us kept on scoring and assisting one another while winning games,” Gallo said.
This season in particular, Gallo and Cuevas have used their speed, skill and chemistry to combine for a total of 30 goals, 25 assists and 74 points. There was rarely a game during the season where one of their names was not etched in the box score with a goal or an assist.
“We have played with each other since elementary school, so I think over the years our chemistry has just built. I think it has been a huge success for us and the team,” Gallo said.
Gallo says this season has been very special for him and the team because it has served as the actualization of the seniors’ dreams since they all began playing together in kindergarten.
While looking to continue to play soccer at the collegiate level, Gallo recently applied to multiple schools in Arizona and Colorado, but no decision has been made yet.
Gallo and the team will play Cheyenne Mountain High School in the second round of the playoffs on Wednesday, Nov. 2, in Colorado Springs at 5 p.m.
Cheyenne Mountain is the No. 3 seed in the 4A state playoffs and has a record of 13-1-2. Cheyenne Mountain almost fell to No. 30 Holy Family High School last Friday.
“I think everyone is excited because everyone loves these big games and to play a good team,” Gallo said. “The goal for tomorrow is to work hard and win.”