UCCS takes commanding Steel & Silver lead with win over Thunderwolves
COLORADO SPRINGS - The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs took a commanding lead in the 2009-10 Steel & Silver Series Wednesday evening as the Mountain Lions women's soccer team defeated the Colorado State-Pueblo Thunderwolves 1-0 at Mountain Lion Stadium.
With the win, UCCS is now leading the rivalry series 14-0. Since 45 points are available, UCCS needs just nine more to clinch the series and the Ent Federal Credit Union Trophy that goes to the winner.
Wednesday's win was bigger than most. Four points are awarded to the winner of the season series in each of the 10 sports that both schools sponsor. Since the women's soccer teams play only once this season, the win was worth all four points available for the sport.
"It's a huge rivalry between the two schools and that makes for a big game, no matter what," said UCCS coach Nichole (Rick) Ridenour. "The fact that we get them only once this year makes for even bigger circumstances."
Despite facing heavy pressure, UCCS freshman goalkeeper Kayla Millar recorded her third shutout in five starts since taking over for injured senior Ashley Armstrong. Millar made 10 saves. Her counterpart, CSU-Pueblo's Randi Wallace, stopped nine shots in the losing effort.
Coury Pitt's goal in the 15th minute was all the offense required by Millar and her defensive teammates. Pitt closed on a Thunderwolves defender who was trying to control a bouncer, managed to bump the ball away, ran onto it and drilled it in.
"I saw her playing with the ball in the back, so I took the opportunity to tackle her," said Pitt. "I hit (the ball) with the outside of my foot because I saw the goalie coming. The right side of the net was wide open."
CSU-Pueblo's hyper-physical style began to take its toll on UCCS, particularly late in the game. Over the final 25 minutes, the Thunderwolves outshot UCCS 8-2 and five of those shots require saves by Millar.
"It was really scrappy and scrappy balls are then hardest for us to defend because you don't know where the ball is going," said Millar. "We were having trouble clearing (the ball) to where we needed to clear it."
One person's scrappy is another's combat. The match devolved into a hockey game, complete with body checks, grabbing, pushing and even the occasional blow. Two players needed to be helped from the field, one of which was taken to the hospital.
While upset that the game was allowed to get in that state, Ridenour was more upset by her team's failure to appropriately deal with it.
"That's what our girls need to learn - to play through it," said Ridenour. "We can't rely on the refs to make calls for us, we can't rely on them to protect us. We have to play through it and hold the ball; we need to control the pace of the game and make our own adjustments to protect the team."
But those are lessons for another day. Wednesday, the Mountain Lions left the field with a 5-5 record, 4-5 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, and winners of three of their past four. CSU-Pueblo dropped to 3-7-1, 2-7-1 in the RMAC.
"We've been doing a lot better," said Pitt. "It took us time to get chemistry together and, once that clicked, we started passing around teams and learning how to score."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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