Soccer shot down by Air Force

By Doug Fitzgerald published October 7, 2003

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs soccer team deserved better than it got Tuesday night at the Air Force Academy - a lot better.

What the Mountain Lions got was a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Division I Falcons. What they deserve is a little respect.

For 87 minutes, CU-Colorado Springs went toe-to-toe with the bigger, faster Falcons. During that time, the Mountain Lions held the second-highest scoring team in NCAA Division I to a single goal, 1.8 fewer than the Falcons average on the season. But soccer games last 90 minutes.

“That was a 1-0 game that ended up 3-0,” said CU-Colorado Springs senior forward Ryan Slaughter.

True, but all that the people who make the regional rankings will see is a 3-0 score and a 4-5 overall record, a combination that will likely knock the Mountain Lions out of the No. 9 spot in the Midwest region that they had climbed to.

Air Forceâ€TMs superior speed was directly responsible for the gameâ€TMs first goal at the 33:54 mark. Marcus Sagastume sent a long pass into the CU-Colorado Springs end, and Air Forceâ€TMs Dan Walsh outran CU-Colorado Springsâ€TM Art Cutter for possession. With Cutter a half step behind, Walsh was able to send an unhindered crossing pass to the 18-yard mark. Daniel Wasson, who came into the match leading NCAA Division I in scoring at 1.13 goals per game, had dashed between Mountain Lion defenders Brian Best and Jeff Halligan near midfield and stayed just ahead of them to take the pass in stride and score.

“Thereâ€TMs so much talent out there,” said Halligan about the Falcons. “You go from position to position, theyâ€TMre strong everywhere.”

It could easily have been 2-0 had Mitchell not made a spectacular save on a Colin Eames shot in the 32nd minute. It was one of several acrobatic saves by Mitchell, who stopped 10 shots.

When Mitchell wasnâ€TMt keeping the Mountain Lions in the game, Halligan was. On several occasions, the sophomore defender thwarted odd-man counters.

“I try to stay in the passing lane,” said Halligan. “I know Mitchell can stop the first shot so my job is to take away the pass.”

CU-Colorado Springs best chance to tie the match came into 74th minute when Matt Eschbachâ€TMs laser had goalkeeper Brian Dougal beaten but was barely wide of the goal.

“It was a couple of feet (wide) at most,” said Eschbach.

Air Force scored the clincher with 2:34 remaining. CU-Colorado Springs gambled by pushing extra attackers forward, which resulted in more pressure in the Air Force zone. It also opened the Mountain Lions up to counter-attack. Mitchell effectively thwarted most of the Falcon counters, but with 2:34 remaining, Best was caught far forward. A long ball to went to Tino Diaz, who found Wasson for the goal.

Not satisfied with winning the match, Air Force coach Lou Sagastume continued to press the attack on the demoralized Mountain Lions. With 21 seconds remaining, Wasson scored his third goal.

The goal gave Wasson his hat trick. It made the score look better for the Falconsâ€TM Division I rivals. It also robbed CU-Colorado Springs of some of the respect it had earned., at least to those who didnâ€TMt see the match.

“We played those guys toe-to-toe for 80 minutes,” said Halligan. “Those last 10 minutes was all mental. We didnâ€TMt break down physically.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Brian BestBrian Best2DefenderFreshman
Brian BestBrian Best2DSo.
Brian BestBrian Best2DJr
Brian BestBrian Best2DSr.
Jeffry HalliganJeffry Halligan6MidfielderFreshman
Jeff HalliganJeff Halligan19M/DSo
Jeff HalliganJeff Halligan19M/DJr
Jeff HalliganJeff Halligan19M/DSr.
Art CutterArt Cutter18DFr
Art CutterArt Cutter8DSo.
Art CutterArt Cutter8DSr.
Ryan SlaughterRyan Slaughter7FSr.
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