Soccer Season Preview
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs soccer coach Flavio Mazzetti doesnâ€TMt like to make predictions. When the Mountain Lions had been picked to finish sixth in the seven-team Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in the preseason coachesâ€TM poll, though, even the reserved Mazzetti couldnâ€TMt help himself.
â€œI really respect all the coaches in the RMAC but perhaps we need to see how the story unfolds and see how their prognostication skills unfold,â€ said Mazzetti. â€œI think we have a lot of pride and a lot to play for.â€
The RMAC coachesâ€TM skepticism is understandable. UCCS stumbled to a 4-13 record in 2004 and finished out of the RMAC playoffs for only the second time in the past nine years.
â€œNo one enjoyed last year,â€ said Mazzetti. â€œWe didnâ€TMt feel it was the best we could do. We felt like we never really put it all together and our record reflected that.â€
To change that record, the Mountain Lions will need to improve offensively. UCCS averaged only one goal per match a year ago and was shut out six times.
Juan Nolasco, who tied for the team lead in goals scored (two) and points (six) a year ago, is the Mountain Lionsâ€TM only returning forward. Heâ€TMll be joined by Jeff Moore, a talented goal scorer who has been on the fringes of the UCCS program for a couple of years but has been plagued by injuries. The most intriguing new face, though, is Marcus Reynolds, who played defense last season. Reynolds is strong, fast and plays the ball well in the air.
Also in the forward mix are a pair of speedsters, James McMonigle and Mark Radvanczy.
â€œWe have done many things (in practice) that will help our players be more productive with their scoring,â€ said Mazzetti. â€œI think as a team we are finishing and crossing better.â€
If Reynolds provides an impact offensively, Mazzetti can thank his teamâ€TMs depth defensively for allowing him to make the move.
Art Cutter and Eric Foulk will anchor the middle of the defense with team captain Brian Best on the right side. Competition on the left side includes Jeff Gerali, Brian Thatcher and Corey Johnson.
â€œOur defense has been a bright spot my first two seasons and it is only going to get better,â€ said Mazzetti. â€œWe have more chemistry, speed, strength and height. I think we are going to be a very stingy type of a team defensively.â€
Should there be a lapse defensively, the Mountain Lions have a security blanket covering the goal in senior keeper Chris Hovasse.
â€œItâ€TMs very comforting to have Hovasse back,â€ said Mazzetti. â€œHe was clearly our best player (last season) and the most important at times.
â€œWe have another year of experience at the goalie position and Justin Elliot is looking very strong as well. I feel we have the best goal keeping Iâ€TMve had since Iâ€TMve been here.â€
Already boasting a strong defense and a promising offense, it could be the Mountain Lionsâ€TM play in the midfield that makes the difference. As far as the center midfield position is concerned, thatâ€TMs a good thing.
Steady veterans Matt Eshbach, Matt Atkins and Jeff Halligan return. They are joined by talented newcomers Jeff Bettner and Duncan Brown, both of whose game seems a perfect fit for Mazzettiâ€TMs style of play.
â€œOur depth is definitely a key for us,â€ said Mazzetti. â€œIt is just a matter of coming up with the right combinations and making the right changes at the right time.â€
The question mark comes on the outside where Brandon Best, Evan Neufeld, Matt Lay plus any all of the prospective center midfielders are vying to fill two spots.
â€œThose are two positions that are up for grabs,â€ said Mazzetti. â€œIâ€TMm willing to put anyone there whoâ€TMll do what weâ€TMre asking them to do.â€
With so few question marks and more than adequate depth to find the answers, Mazzetti believes that his third term at UCCS could turn into a breakthrough season.
â€œI think we are going to be extremely competitive and extremely hard to deal with,â€ said Mazzetti. â€œI feel we have a team that can do the job in the RMAC this year.â€
|Additional News Stories|
|October 21, 2006||UCCS soccer continues slide||DENVER â€“ The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs soccer team continued its struggles, falling 3-0 to the Metro State Roadrunners Saturday at Auraria Field.|
|October 16, 2006||Sweetser's hat trick sinks UCCS||The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs soccer team, mired in a recent slump, came into Sundayâ€™s match desperately in need of a boost.|
|October 12, 2006||Thunderwolves close Steel and Silver gap with soccer win||The Colorado State-Pueblo Thunderwolves closed the gap in the Steel and Silver Series with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a 2-1 victory over the Mountain Lions Wednesday in menâ€™s soccer.|
|November 9, 2005||Four soccer players named All-RMAC||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs soccer players Marcus Reynolds, Art Cutter and Eric Foulk were named second-team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, the RMAC announced Wednesday.|
|October 30, 2005||Penalties costly in season finale||The two most severe in-game penalties, not just in soccer but in all of sports, are the penalty kick and the red card. The Colorado School of Mines Orediggers got the full benefit of both in a 4-1 victory over the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Sunday at Sand Creek Stadium.|