Autumn adventures

Fall sports at Mesa begin practicing for 2013 season

The Colorado Mesa University men’s soccer team does some drills Wednesday at Walker Field, the first day of practice for several Mesa fall teams. The men’s soccer team relied on its defense to win games last year and coach Josh Pittman hopes this season the Mavs will score a few more goals.


“It’s a little different (being the only senior), but I enjoy it. It’s bittersweet. We’re a young team, but we love to play ball. You can see the passion in the game already, and that’s exciting.”

Sunni Rae Baird, sr.

Volleyball libero

“I think we have a really great group of guys. We’ve been playing together for a while. We’re better and more experienced. I think we can have a promising season and get our first playoff win.”

Ethan Johnson, sr.

Men’s soccer defender

“I want to go as far as we can. We have a set core (of players) that’s been playing since our freshmen year. I’m excited to see how it will end up. I know we have a good team just from today.”

Leilani Wiernicki, sr.

Women’s soccer defender

Colorado Mesa University’s men’s soccer team made some progress last year scoring goals, and it is focused on improving even more this season.

The Mavericks began practice for the 2013 season Wednesday. They scrimmage the University of Denver on Friday in Vail and officially open the season Sept. 7 against California State University-Stanislaus in Nampa, Idaho.

“We’ll continue what we were doing in the spring with our attack in the final third,” CMU men’s soccer coach Josh Pittman said. “We need to be more efficient and effective with it.”

Mesa (8-7-4) scored seven more goals last year than it did in 2011, but it still ranked sixth in the nine-team RMAC with 27. Regis led the RMAC with 64 goals.

The Mavericks won most of their games because of their defense, which limited opponents to 18 goals (less than one per game), and they return all but one player.

“We’re very strong defensively,” Pittman said. “That actually showed in our first practice. The team looked very organized. We’ve already had to adjust one practice right now because there are things we feel we’re already pretty good at.”

Mesa added six players to the squad this season, including five freshmen. Senior midfielder Legofi Crawford transferred from Montana State University-Billings.

Women’s Soccer

Colorado Mesa women’s soccer coach Erin Sharpe went back to a 4-4-3 formation in the spring and hopes it will lead to more goals for the Mavericks this fall.

“Knowing what this (incoming) class is going to bring and the differences in style of play, we did start playing that 4-4-3 this spring,” Sharpe said. “We did very well with it. We beat Metro 3-0, and that was without our seniors (last season) and the incoming class. That 4-4-3 allows for more creativity than most formations.”

Sharpe added nine players, including three transfers. Freshman forward Monica Carlos could benefit most from the new formation with more open space to attack.

“We’re getting everyone on the same page in terms of our system,” Sharpe said. “We got a lot deeper and a lot more creative. It’s a really exciting time for our program. My hope and expectation is a lot more goals will come as a result of it.”

The Mavericks (9-7-3 last year) scrimmage Air Force Academy on Friday in Taos, N.M.


Mesa looks to replace three key seniors, including all-RMAC libero Megan Rush.

Senior Sunni Rae Baird, junior Tiffany Petersen and redshirt freshman Kricket Aldeman are possible replacements this season. Baird is the only senior on the team.

“A lot of it is how we approach things,” CMU coach Dave Fleming said. “We want to attack, not (fearful) to lose, but (expecting) to win. We’ll continue to work on defense and being smart on the attack.”

Six new players join the volleyball team this fall, including former basketball player Leanndra Gilbert. The 5-foot-9 junior will play outside hitter and could play on the right side.

The Mavericks are practicing in the Jamie Hamilton Recreation Center gym for at least the first two weeks while the new floor in Brownson Arena is finished.

Colorado Mesa (17-11 in 2012) opens the season Sept. 6-7 at the Angelo State (Texas) Invitational.

Men’s Lacrosse

Colorado Mesa hired assistant coach Vince Smith, head coach AJ Stevens announced Wednesday. Smith will be the offensive coordinator.

Smith spent the past five years at Christchurch School in Virginia, where he served as the school’s athletic director, assistant dean of students, history teacher and lacrosse program leader.

Stevens worked with Smith at the University of Illinois, where Smith implemented game plans along with assisting practice plans.


The Colorado Mesa men’s and women’s cross-country teams begin practicing Monday.


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