Mountain Lions beat Metro State in RMAC opener
COLORADO SPRINGS - Goals by Kyle Lee, Brett Drefs and Matt Friesen helped the University of Colorado Colorado Springs beat the Metro State Roadrunners Friday evening at Mountain Lion Stadium.
With the win, the Metro State monkey was finally removed from the Mountain Lions' backs. It was UCCS' second straight win over the powerful Roadrunners (including a 3-2 overtime victory on Oct. 17, 2010) after going 0-13-1 against them in the previous 14 meeting dating back to Nov. 2, 2003. The combined score over those 14 matches was 47-8.
"It's been a long time coming - a long four years to get a victory like that, a decisive win," said Friesen, a senior forward and captain for the Mountain Lions. "It really feels good for the entire team. (The Roadrunners) were getting national votes to get into the Top 25, so it feels good."
UCCS (3-2, 1-0 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) was sharp in every aspect of Friday's win. While Metro State outshot UCCS 22-13, the Mountain Lions' defense forced many of those to be from long range or difficult angles. Only five of the Roadrunners' shots were on goal and all but one were gobbled up by UCCS goalkeeper Brandon Costa (3-1).
"It's the same back four we've had starting for a while and they've done a great job together," said UCCS coach Henry Ellis. "We're willing to give up a few of those shots from the outside when we know it's not dangerous."
Nine of UCCS' shots were on frame. Metro State keeper Issa Bissau (1-2) made five saves and the Roadrunners (2-2-1, 0-1 RMAC) also had a team save.
Persistence led to UCCS' first score, which happened in the 36th minute. A Drefs corner kick went long, but was sent towards the goal line to the right side of the net by a contested header. Instead of letting the ball go out of bounds, UCCS' Keenan Forder managed to keep it in play by chipping a high, backward pass that went back across the goal mouth to the far post, where Carlos Verdugo stuck a leg out and crossed the ball once again, this one head high. Lee charged and headed it in.
"Carlos, it was a great individual effort to keep it up and put just a brilliant ball across," said Friesen. "Kyle Lee was just there to snap that header in. That's his first collegiate goal so he was pretty excited."
Lee, a sophomore midfielder who brings high energy and work rate off the UCCS bench, had entered the match less than three minutes before scoring his goal.
"With the competitiveness we have in training, you can see that we don't lose a lot when we bring guys off the bench," said Ellis.
The Mountain Lions made it 2-0 in the 55th minute. After a UCCS attack pulled the Metro State defense and midfield far into their own zone, an attempt to clear the ball was intercepted by Drefs, who took one touch to his right and launched a rocket from 45 yards out. With several Mountain Lions still deep in his zone, Bissau was caught between playing Drefs' ball and watching for others who might deflect it. By the time he committed to the initial shot, it was too late as the ball snuck into the upper right hand corner.
UCCS made it 3-0 less than three minutes later as Justin Miller beat his man to the goal line and sent a left-footed crossing pass across the goal mouth. Friesen scored his fourth goal of the season with a sliding redirection.
"That was all J-Mill," said Friesen, using the team's nickname for Miller. "He just got the ball and did up that kid. He got a step on him and that's all you really need to serve it in. I made a hard near-post run and got a touch on it."
Costa and the Mountain Lions lost the shutout with just 1:52 remaining. Scott Crawford forced a double-team with some skillful ball handling, but finally had the ball poked away. Cody Melphy, left momentarily uncovered, sent a perfect crossing pass to the far post, where Marc Herschberger headed it in.
Having beaten Metro State, the schedule doesn't get easier for UCCS as the Mountain Lions will face No. 13-ranked Colorado School of Mines on Sunday in Golden.
Until then, the Mountain Lions will continue to work and wonder just how good they might become.
"It's chemistry - we found it," said Ellis. "You should come out to training. It's a lot of fun to be around guys who are scoring great goals and playing off each other fantastic."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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