Own goal sinks Mountain Lions

By Doug Fitzgerald published September 19, 2004

The Mountain Lions defense returned to form Sunday. Now, if they can only awaken the offense to match it.

An own goal in the 60th minute proved to be decisive as the No. 17 Fort Lewis Skyhawks defeated the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Mountain Lions 1-0 at Sand Creek Stadium.

John Cunliffe, the leading scorer in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, helped give Fort Lewis (5-0, 4-0 RMAC) the lead at 59:02. The 2003 RMAC freshman of the year got a step on the defense at the end line and sent an off-balance crossing pass in front of the CU-Colorado Springs goal. Goalkeeper Chris Hovasse dove to intercept the pass, but collided with Fort Lewisâ€TM Ryan Parsons. With Hovasse knocked to the ground, the ball deflected off his shin and into the net

“It was a total fluke,” said CU-Colorado Springs defender Brian Thatcher. “(Cunliffe) beat us to the end line, played the ball across and it hit a shin and went in.”

The match was played in a stiff wind, and Fort Lewis took full advantage in the first half. The Skyhawks had 12 shots and 10 corner kicks by sending balls over the top for their speedy forwards to track down. The Mountain Lions defense was able to cut off the angles enough to put Hovasse in position to make the save, which he did eight times. He had a career-high 11 saves for the match.

After taking the lead, Fort Lewis went into the lead-protecting prevent defense that its coach, Jeremy Gunn, has made famous in Division II circles.

“(The Skyhawks are) solid in the back,” said CU-Colorado Springs forward Oscar Velasco. “They respect their line.”

Despite Fort Lewisâ€TM defensive prowess, the Mountain Lions were able to find weaknesses on occasion.

“In soccer, thereâ€TMs no such thing as an unbreakable defense,” said Velasco. “Today, we showed we could break it, but we just didnâ€TMt get the goals.”

CU-Colorado Springs (1-4, 1-3) had two outstanding scoring chances, both involving Velasco. The first came in the 17th minute when Velasco drilled a sharp-anghle shot from the left side of the goal. Fort Lewisâ€TM Nick Clark made the save, but could not control the ball which bounded over his shoulder. The ball bounced three times inches in front of the goal line before being cleared by the defense.

The second came in the 86th minute when Velasco drilled a shot from 30 yards that hit the crossbar.

“I didnâ€TMt have any luck today,” said Velasco. “You need luck to score sometimes.”

Perhaps the brightest aspect of Sundayâ€TMs match, as far as the Mountain Lions were concerned, was the return of a defense that wasnâ€TMt sharp on Wednesday in a loss to Colorado State-Pueblo.

“Weâ€TMve been playing pretty well (defensively) except the Pueblo game,” said Thatcher. “We wanted to prove that thatâ€TMs not characteristic of what we are. We know if we play hard in the back, all we need is a goal or two weâ€TMll be alright.”

Unfortunately for CU-Colorado Springs, that goal or two didnâ€TMt come on Sunday.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Brian ThatcherBrian Thatcher4DSo.
Brian ThatcherBrian Thatcher4DJr
Brian ThatcherBrian Thatcher7DSr.
Oscar VelascoOscar Velasco8MFSo.
Oscar VelascoOscar Velasco8MJr
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