Overtime win gives Lions a share of the lead

By Doug Fitzgerald published October 31, 2003

The top of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference soccer standings is a strange, and confusing, place to be.

Patrick Brannan scored the game-winning goal two minutes into the second overtime as the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Mountain Lions defeated the Colorado Christian Cougars 2-1 on an icy field Friday at Lakewood, Colo.

The win, combined with a surprising loss by the front-running Fort Lewis Skyhawks, put the Mountain Lions back into a three-way tie (along with Colorado School of Mines) for first place with one match left. The top seed will get to host the RMAC playoffs next weekend. Both Colorado Mines and Fort Lewis have tiebreaker advantages over CU-Colorado Springs, so for the Mountain Lions to host, they would need to beat Metro State on Sunday and both Colorado Mines and Fort Lewis would have to lose or tie their final matches. Fort Lewis plays at Colorado State-Pueblo and Mines hosts Colorado Christian.

Friday, though, the point nearly became moot.

Matt Eschbach put CU-Colorado Springs up 1-0 in the 38th minute, a lead that would stand for nearly 50 minutes. Then, an oddball goal by Colorado Christianâ€TMs Chris Royer tied the match.

“The ball came bouncing into the middle and (CU-Colorado Springs defender Brian) Thatcher stepped out to it,” said Mountain Lion defender Jeff Halligan. “(Royer) kicked the ball and it deflected off of (Thatcher), which changed the ball flight enough to get (goalkeeper Chris) Hovasse out of position.”

The goal not only tied the match, but also gave an eerie feeling of fateâ€TMs hand on the icy Halloween afternoon. CU-Colorado Springs had utterly dominated the match, outshooting the Cougars in regulation 22-15 and holding an even larger 13-3 edge in shots on goal. Additionally, the Mountain Lions had plunked three balls off the goal post and one off the cross bar. Despite the dominant performance, the game went into overtime.

“It lets you know your knocking on the door, but itâ€TMs kind of a letdown hitting a bunch of posts like that,” said Brannan. “To get so close without it going in makes you wonder if youâ€TMll ever get one in.”

CU-Colorado Springsâ€TM defense kept Colorado Christian in check in the first overtime, allowing only a single ineffectual shot. It has been the rise of the Mountain Lions defense that has led them to the top of the standings.

“Weâ€TMre working together and talking more,” said Halligan. “Now weâ€TMre giving defensive directions to the midfield and playing a lot better as a team. We know our own assignments so well now that weâ€TMre doing a better job coordinating the team defense.”

With the defense keeping the ball out of the CU-Colorado Springs zone, the offense continued to apply pressure. Finally, in the 103rd minute, the Mountain Lions were able to solve the riddle of the goalposts.

Jason Brunner dribbled to the corner of the penalty area, then sent a heal pass to Brannan. Brannanâ€TMs goal improved CU-Colorado Springsâ€TM record to 8-3 in the RMAC and 10-6 overall.

“With Fort Lewis losing, it turned out to be a bigger win than we thought,” said Brannan. “(Colorado Christian 1-16, 1-11 RMAC) came out and played with a lot of heart. They were down a goal until late in the game and they never quit.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Patrick BrannanPatrick Brannan10MidfielderSophomore
Patrick BrannanPatrick Brannan14MJr
Patrick BrannanPatrick Brannan10MSr
Jeffry HalliganJeffry Halligan6MidfielderFreshman
Jeff HalliganJeff Halligan19M/DSo
Jeff HalliganJeff Halligan19M/DJr
Jeff HalliganJeff Halligan19M/DSr.
Jason BrunnerJason Brunner3DJr.
Jason BrunnerJason Brunner8DefenderSophomore
Jason BrunnerJason Brunner3M/FSr
Brian ThatcherBrian Thatcher4DSo.
Brian ThatcherBrian Thatcher4DJr
Brian ThatcherBrian Thatcher7DSr.
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