No. 1 Fort Lewis slips past Mountain Lions
COLORADO SPRINGS - Fort Lewis, the No. 1-ranked team in NCAA Division II, got a goal in the eighth minute and made it stand as the Skyhawks defeated the University of Colorado Colorado Springs 1-0 Sunday at Mountain Lion Stadium.
To the Mountain Lions credit, the match was every bit as close as the score. Fort Lewis had a 6-4 edge in shots on goal, but both teams had similar scoring opportunities. UCCS had a near miss on a corner kick early in the match and a dynamic play by Scott Kocel to get into position for a shot in front of the Fort Lewis net was smothered by an equally dynamic play by Skyhawk goalkeeper Ryan Wirth, who finished with four saves.
"We definitely had our fair opportunities today," said UCCS coach Henry Ellis. "To be fair, I think we should have gotten at least one today so I felt we were a little unlucky."
Just 7:19 into the match, Derek Freeman split the UCCS defense with a lateral run and turned upfield after receiving a timely pass from Alberto Capdepon Rodriguez. He sent a roller from 15 yards out that barely eluded diving UCCS goalkeeper Brandon Costa, who had five saves.
Fort Lewis is the nation's top-ranked team for a reason. Through 11 matches, all wins including eight conference contests, the Skyhawks have outscored their opponents 31-4, playing with a precision rarely seen in college soccer.
"You can't really duplicate that in training," said Ellis. "We did a lot of quick movement (in training) just to give us some glimpse of how they play. They move the ball well when they get it; they're very comfortable with the ball."
The training tactics must have helped. The Mountain Lions managed to play even up throughout the match despite slipping to 6-6 on the season and 4-4 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play.
"I thought we really moved the ball around well today," said Ellis. "Possessing against the No. 1 team in the country is always a good thing.
"We couldn't find the back of the net today and that was unfortunate."
Ellis is hoping that the Mountain Lions can carry their edge over into Wednesday when Colorado State-Pueblo comes to Mountain Lion Stadium. UCCS beat the Thunderwolves 2-1 in double overtime on Sept. 21, meaning that UCCS can win the four points available for men's soccer in the Steel & Silver Series with a win or a tie against CSU-Pueblo. In addition, "The March," which is kicking off Back to the Bluffs - UCCS' version of homecoming - will precede the game.
"Absolutely huge one coming up on Wednesday," said Ellis. "We've got to get prepared for that one mentally and physically. It was an absolute battle at their field that went into overtime.
"I know we're going to have a huge crowd; it's The March. If you can't get excited for that on your home field against Pueblo, you can't get excited for anything."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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