Season ends with overtime loss to Mines in RMAC playoffs
GOLDEN, Colo. - A Baski Baker goal 1:38 into overtime ended the University of Colorado Colorado Springs men's soccer season as the Mountain Lions fell 2-1 to the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers Tuesday afternoon at CSM Soccer Stadium.
Mines (11-6-1) will advance to the semifinals of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament and will play Fort Lewis Friday at Durango, Colo. UCCS finished its season with a 9-9-1 overall record and 7-6-1 in RMAC matches. It was the Mountain Lions' first winning season in conference play since 2003. It was also UCCS' first appearance in the postseason since 2003.
"It was really great for us to make it to the playoffs; it shows where we're at as a program," said UCCS coach Henry Ellis. "We've been making strides from day one since I got here four years ago and we've made gradual improvements every year.
"We had some really big wins this year for the program. Maybe we were just a little too inexperienced when we got to this big stage."
That inexperience barely showed as the teams were even on the field and the stat sheet.
"I thought we played really, really well today," said Ellis. "We moved the ball around well, we ran off each other really strong and we had some really good quality chances."
The Orediggers scored first as Tesho Akidele sent a rolling crossing pass that found Alex Gunberg in stride on a far-post run in the 31st minute. A turnover at midfield and a split-second-late reaction by the UCCS defense provided all the gap the Orediggers needed to take the lead.
"It's tough keeping the emotional energy up when you're down one goal due to a simple little mistake," said Ellis. "We had the confidence going in, but you can't make one little mistake against that team. We literally had 30 seconds of letdown today and it cost us two goals."
The Mountain Lions worked hard to trying to even the match but kept narrowly missing. Mash Shaswar missed just high and to the right off a free kick from the edge of the box for UCCS in the 32nd minute. In the 46th minute, Matt Friesen got a point-blank shot on a deflection in front of the Mines goal but Cale Haas was there to block the ball.
"That's what it's like in the playoffs; some of them go in and some miss," said Shaswar. "It cost us today but we played good."
Shaswar provided the one that went in, evening the match in the 82nd minute.
"We crossed it in and hit off one of their players," said Shaswar. "I was just there to put it in - the right place at the right time."
Colton Brisco preserved the tie in the 84th minute, heading a Baker shot out of the goal mouth for a team save. UCCS goalkeeper Brandon Costa had three saves.
But another turnover set up the game-winner in overtime. Akindele stole the ball near midfield and sent a looping pass over the top to Baker, who put a perfect, sharp-angle shot inside the far post.
Lost in the emotion immediately following the loss was the accomplishment of getting to the postseason in the first place. A few minutes of reflection provided some perspective.
"It feels good; obviously right now it's a little tough," said UCCS senior Matt Friesen, who finished his UCCS career third in the school's record book in career goals and points and second in assists. "Everybody in the conference respects us now; we're on the map. I'd like to feel I was a part of that."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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