Golden opportunity slips away as UCCS falls in overtime to Mesa State
GRAND JUNCTION â€" Evans Afriyie scored 2:23 into the second overtime as the Mesa State Mavericks defeated the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs menâ€TMs soccer team Friday afternoon at Walker Field.
The Mountain Lions were caught in transition on the play, trying to press the attack to get the three points in the standings that a win would have granted. Instead, they came away with none as Marco Angelo found Afriyie streaking up the middle of the field. UCCSâ€TM Gilbert Chavez was with him step-for-step, but Afriyie crossed behind Chavez and launched a sizzling left-footer that went in lower left.
Just like that, what should have been a golden opportunity for the Mountain Lions was wasted.
â€œToday we came out and we shut off a couple of times,â€ said UCCS coach Henry Ellis. â€œThey were able to win a ball, carry it down the field and put it in the back of the net.â€
The Mountain Lion faithful have been hoping that second-year coach Henry Ellisâ€TM rebuilding project has progressed enough to put UCCS in the hunt for a spot in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoffs. The Mountain Lions, along with everyone else in the RMACâ€TMs second division, are in pursuit of the conferenceâ€TMs big four (Fort Lewis, Colorado Mines, Regis and Metro State).
In Mesa State, UCCS looked to have the perfect opponent to get a road win. The Mavericks came into Fridayâ€TMs match with a 1-7-1 record, 1-3 in the RMAC. The lone win was 3-0 over Colorado Christian on Sept. 20.
â€œWe were ahead 1-0. In those situations, we should play smart and simple balls and today we were trying to do too much stuff,â€ said Ellis. â€œThatâ€TMs not the way we work; thatâ€TMs not UCCS soccer. Weâ€TMre going to have to work and get better.â€
UCCS found itself too often being drug down into playing Mesa Stateâ€TMs game. The Mavericks, thinned by injuries and other personnel losses, have become â€" by necessity â€" a very physical team. UCCS forward Matt Friesen learned this first-hand as he had so many hands laid upon him that he should have felt either healed or violated.
â€œ(It was an) absolute physical battle,â€ said Ellis.
The Mountain Lions opened the scoring in the 13th minute. Dami Oladiran posted up to take a bouncer served up by Friesen. Instead of making the touch, Oladiran pivoted around the defender and launched a shot on the bounce. He beat Mesa State keeper Josh Tinaglia lower left.
The Mavericks got the equalizer 18 minutes later after Nick Labor found himself well behind the UCCS defense to retrieve a long pass from Angelo. One-on-one with UCCS goalkeeper Adam Liszewski, Labor slide the ball low inside the near post.
Mesa State misfired on another one-on-one with 30:14 remaining in the match. Labor took a through pass unmarked after splitting the UCCS defense. Liszewski attacked low with his arms spread in order to make himself as large an obstacle as possible. Without an angle low, Labor was forced to shoot high and his attempt sailed just over the crossbar.
UCCS had one just as close with 7:25 left. Greg Miley found space down the right side and sent a beautiful, arcing crossing pass toward the feet of Friesen, who was charging far post. The ball arrived mid-stride, though, and Friesen was unable to get a leg extended enough to redirect the ball on goal.
Another UCCS near-miss came six minutes later as Riley Gallagher got the ball from Miley on a give-and-go. His low shot sailed about a foot wide of the goal.
Miley, Friesen and Piechowski all got looks within a 10-second span four minutes into the first overtime, but none could find the net.
All of those missed opportunities were magnified when Afriyieâ€TMs shot â€" amazingly just the fifth taken by the Mavericks in the match â€" found its mark.
Things wonâ€TMt be getting easier any time soon for UCCS. Sundayâ€TMs opponent, Fort Lewis, is ranked No. 9 nationally and demolished these same Mavericks 8-0 on Sept. 25 in Grand Junction. In fact, the Skyhawks (8-1, 5-0 RMAC) have outscored their opponents 42-4 this season and have blanked RMAC teams to the tune of 24-0.
â€œWeâ€TMre going to have to change some things or itâ€TMs going to be a long season for us,â€ said Ellis.
And more golden opportunities will turn to lead.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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