Mountain Lions get nostalgic victory
For veterans of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs soccer program, Mondayâ€TMs match against the Colorado Christian Cougars was like looking through an old photo album. But the Mountain Lions certainly arenâ€TMt feeling nostalgic, especially after their 3-1 victory.
Colorado Christian brought back memories of recent CU-Colorado Springs teams in its style of play, packing it back on defense then looking for goals in transition by sending long passes deep into the opponentsâ€TM zone.
â€œThey had a lot of numbers behind the ball until the last 20 minutes or so,â€ said CU-Colorado Springs assistant coach Ted Dâ€TMArcy, describing the Cougarsâ€TM defense.
Itâ€TMs a style that served the Mountain Lions well. Over the past 12 years, all under former coach Eddy Dietz, CU-Colorado Springs won 110 matches with the long ball as a staple. But the 2003 Mountain Lions keep possession of the ball, work it patiently through the midfield and try to set up their shots. Itâ€TMs been an effective style, leading CU-Colorado Springs to a 5-5 record despite a daunting schedule, and a 4-2 mark in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Seniors Martin Kristiseter, Ryan Slaughter and Jared Blackney, all veterans of the previous regime, showed that theyâ€TMve adapted well to the new order. Kristiseter had a goal and two assists, while Blackney had a goal and an assist and Slaughter added two assists.
Ironically, the Mountain Lionsâ€TM first goal came in transition.
Kristiseter chased down a long ball in the right corner in the eighth minute and crossed it to Slaughter, who touch passed it to Blackney for the goal.
â€œI was in a position behind (Blackney) where I had the opportunity to call him off, because if he got to it first I didnâ€TMt think he was going to be able to have a good play on it,â€ said Slaughter. â€œWhen I got it, the defender stepped to me. I knew I could pass it to Jared for an easy goal.â€
Despite having struggled this season, Colorado Christian (0-13, 0-7) didnâ€TMt panic after falling behind. Instead, the Cougars stayed with their defense-first philosophy.
â€œThey continued to pack it in after one goal,â€ said Dâ€TMArcy, who also pointed out that the Mountain Lions were often trying to be too precise in their passing. â€œWe were taking extra touches trying to get that perfect shot, and a lot of times it didnâ€TMt materialize.â€
What did materialize was an alert play by Slaughter.
In the 57th minute, Colorado Christian goalkeeper A.J. Kurtz picked up a ball that had been sent back to him by a teammate. Since the ball had been kicked back, controlling it with his hands was illegal and resulted in an indirect free kick from about eight yards out. Slaughter played the ball laterally before the Cougar defense could get set, and Kristiseter drilled it in.
â€œI was around when they made that rule change and around that time there were multiple timesâ€¦where the goalie made the mistake of picking it up,â€ said Slaughter. â€œI donâ€TMt think (Kurtz) thought it was going to be an indirect kick. I think he thought it was going to be a penalty kick. I grabbed the ball out of his hands and knew that the first player I saw, if I could get him going forward, was going to score.â€
That player was Kristiseter. Judging by the stunned looks both among the 202 in attendance and on the Colorado Christian bench, Slaughter, Kristiseter and referee Ken Andow may have been the only three people at Sand Creek Stadium that knew what was going on.
â€œ(Kristiseter) was wide awake,â€ said Slaughter. â€œHe got there quick and hammered it into the back of the net.â€
Reserve forward Matt Atkins added the clincher in the 71st minute after some skillful passing by Blackney and Kristiseter. It was a fitting final score on a nostalgic night, since it was epitomized the slick-passing style of the new Mountain Lions.
Colorado Christian finally sent extra attackers forward late in the match and the strategy paid off when Adam Todd scored after a pass from Brad Palik. The goal, scored with just 11 minutes, 56 seconds remaining, ruined CU-Colorado Springs goalkeeper Matt Mitchellâ€TMs bid for his second shutout of the season.
â€œWhen they did push guys forward, we wanted to transition that much faster and take advantage if mismatches number-wise,â€ said Dâ€TMArcy. â€œWe didnâ€TMt do that terribly effectively today.â€
What the Mountain Lions did do effectively, Dâ€TMArcy pointed out, was win convincingly despite not playing at the top of their game. Thatâ€TMs something that will give the team confidence as it embarks upon a stretch of seven matches, six against RMAC opponents, in 17 days starting Friday against Regis in Denver.
Itâ€TMs also something that lets the veterans smile when they close the photo album.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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