By Ryan Clarke • The Bulletin

Summit boasts one of the best boys soccer teams in the state. At 12-1 overall and 6-0 in the Mountain Valley Conference, the Storm are currently No. 2 in the OSAA’s Class 6A rankings as the postseason looms. At the heart of their success is a stifling defense.

Ten of Summit’s 12 victories are shutouts. Two of its 6A-best four goals allowed this season were surrendered in a Sept. 20 road loss to Sunset.

Coach Ron Kidder said his team combines luck with skill, but his players believe there is more to it. There are two secret ingredients to the Storm’s defensive dominance, in their eyes: “Fortnite” and “homemade applesauce.”

The former is a popular video game the team plays together, while the latter is an inside joke from their Snapchat group. Senior defender Emory Steele said both act as uniting forces for the Storm, building a strong chemistry.

“We really wanted to create a team this year that was really tight and bonded,” he said after Monday’s 4-0 win at Mountain View. “We’re just like the Brady Bunch. We all work together like a family, and we work well.”

Summit’s chemistry is evident on the field. The Storm play loose, communicate and lock down their opponents defensively. Kidder said the “closeness” of the team is an asset, because it translates to quality play and practice habits.

Tactically, the Storm operate in a 4-5-1 formation, crowding the midfield and typically dropping eight players behind the ball. Once opposing players cross midfield, they are often met by one or two aggressive defenders. Good opportunities have been far and few between for Summit’s opponents this season.

“Our offsides trap is really solid,” senior defender Logan Wehrman said. “We always catch teams off guard with that, and if they get past it we’ve got two of the fastest center backs in the state.”

An integral part of shutting teams out is having a vigilant goalkeeper. Kidder said the play of junior Khael Engelman between the posts makes it easier for the defenders in front of him, adding another layer to the impenetrable fort this team has built.

“It’s been pretty incredible,” Kidder said. “Usually you’ll get a game where you just get unlucky. It’s soccer. We just haven’t had that happen this year, and I hope the luck continues when it really counts.”

Summit players pride themselves on holding each other accountable, according to Wehrman and Steele. Teammates don’t hold back constructive criticism for each other, especially in key moments when the utmost focus is required.

In the end, communication is key, whether they are on a soccer field, playing a game of squads in “Fortnite” or roasting each other in a group message. The Storm hope all the time spent together results in even more shutouts — and perhaps a state championship to boot.

— Reporter: 541-383-0307, rclarke@bendbulletin.com

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