Sweetser's hat trick sinks UCCS

By Doug Fitzgerald published October 16, 2006

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs soccer team, mired in a recent slump, came into Sundayâ€TMs match desperately in need of a boost.

But to try to get it when youâ€TMre shorthanded and playing Fort Lewis, the No. 5 ranked team in the nation, is like trying to start your diet at a Crispy Crème shop.

Cole Sweetser, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conferenceâ€TMs leading scorer, had a hat trick in the first 22 minutes as the Skyhawks defeated the Mountain Lions 3-0 at Sand Creek Stadium.

The Mountain Lions (5-6-1, 3-3-1 RMAC) are now 1-4-1 in their past six matches.

Sweetserâ€TMs first goal came in the eighth minute when John Cunliffe drove past the Mountain Lion defense to the goal line. His crossing pass found Sweetser running alone at the far post.

Less than three minutes later, Sean Flanagan sent a pass through traffic that found Sweetser in stride. His one-timer beat UCCS goalkeeper Chris Hovasse (4-5).

Sweetser completed the hat trick with a penalty kick at the 21:05 mark.

The barrage left the Mountain Lions stunned.

“Fort Lewis always comes out to play,” said midfielder Matt Eshbach. “They have a great coach and he gets them fired up from the start.”

While the Skyhawks came out strong, they here greatly helped by a patchwork UCCS defense. The Mountain Lions were playing without two starters, forward Jeff Moore and defender Art Cutter. Another starting defender, Matt Lay, was injured early in the match.

“We played a great game except for the first 20 minutes,” said Eshbach. “Against a great team like that, you have to come out strong from the start.”

Despite the personnel losses, UCCS was able to hold Fort Lewis in check the final 70 minutes. Midfielder Jeff Halligan and forward Marcus Reynolds both took turns at defender, as did senior Brian Thatcher, who played effectively despite being slowed by an assortment of ailments.

“We had some different guys in there who had something to prove,” said Thatcher. “The biggest adjustment we made was knowing we didnâ€TMt have any pressure on us.”

But they did keep pressure on the Skyhawks, limiting them to eight second-half shots. When Fort Lewis did get a shot, Hovasse was there. The senior made three of his five saves in the second half.

“We regained some confidence and played like weâ€TMre supposed to,” said Thatcher.

That confidence was evident after the game, when the Mountain Lions were upbeat despite the unfavorable result. They were focused on the final 70 minutes rather than the first 20.

“I think itâ€TMll get us ready for the next couple of games,” said Eshbach. “If we can keep playing like we did the last 70 minutes today, we should do well.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Jeffry HalliganJeffry Halligan6MidfielderFreshman
Jeff HalliganJeff Halligan19M/DSo
Jeff HalliganJeff Halligan19M/DJr
Jeff HalliganJeff Halligan19M/DSr.
Matt LayMatt Lay15DefenderFreshman
Matt LayMatt Lay16MSo
Matt LayMatt Lay16DJr
Matt LayMatt Lay16DSr.
Matt EshbachMatt Eshbach13MFr
Matt EshbachMatt Eshbach13MSo
Matt EshbachMatt Eshbach3MJr.
Matt EshbachMatt Eshbach3MSr.
Art CutterArt Cutter18DFr
Art CutterArt Cutter8DSo.
Art CutterArt Cutter8DSr.
Brian ThatcherBrian Thatcher4DSo.
Brian ThatcherBrian Thatcher4DJr
Brian ThatcherBrian Thatcher7DSr.
Jeff MooreJeff Moore19FJr.
Jeff MooreJeff Moore11FJr.
Marcus ReynoldsMarcus Reynolds4DFr
Marcus ReynoldsMarcus Reynolds4DFr
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