Mountain Lions tie Division I Air Force in exhibition match

By Doug Fitzgerald published August 23, 2009

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - In boxing, a counterpuncher waits his opponent out by using stifling defense while looking patiently for weaknesses or mistakes to exploit. Sunday at the Cadet Soccer Stadium two soccer counterpunchers went at each other.

Neither found their opponent's weakness.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Mountain Lions and the Air Force Falcons played 110 scoreless minutes, ending in a 0-0 tie.

The match was an exhibition for NCAA Division II UCCS, but it counted for Division I Air Force, which is now 0-1-1 on the season. NCAA rules dictate that Division II schools can't play regular season matches until Aug. 27 this year, a rule which does not apply to Division I institutions. As a result, early-season matches often count for the Division I team and not for the Division II team.

While it doesn't factor into the standings, the match provided valuable game experience for the Mountain Lions, whose women's soccer program is in just its second season. UCCS added 13 new faces this season, two transfers and 11 freshmen.

"We have so many freshmen," said UCCS senior midfielder Ashley Collins. "A lot of them were scared to be playing a Division I team. To get a draw is a big for us.

For Collins, it was a homecoming of sorts. She played her first two seasons at the academy before transferring to UCCS in 2008.

"I always like coming back here," said Collins. "Playing against a team you used to play for means that much more."

Air Force outshot UCCS 20-10, but that was more a function of style than skill. The Falcons look for every opportunity to send a shot on goal, even if the chances of scoring on that shot are slim. Conversely, the Mountain Lions prefer to pass up the low-percentage shot in an attempt to get a higher-percentage chance.

Ashley Armstrong played the first 45 minutes in goal for UCCS, making five saves. Kayla Millar played the second half and both overtimes, saving three and splitting the shutout. Air Force's Charity Blanton played the entire match in goal for the Falcons but did not record a save.

Air Force came within inches of winning the match in the first overtime. With 4:06 remaining, Kelly Bieber to a pass at the top of the penalty area and drilled it just inches over the crossbar.

The Mountain Lions will begin their regular season with a home match against St. Cloud State on Sept. 4.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Ashley CollinsAshley Collins15M
Ashley ArmstrongAshley Armstrong1GK
Kayla MillarKayla Millar2GK
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