Mavericks hoping to earn spot in regional
This whole underdog role suits the Colorado Mesa University women’s soccer team just fine.
“Absolutely. They love to prove people wrong,” CMU coach Erin Sharpe said Friday after the Mavericks (10-6-4) upset top-seeded Regis University 1-0 in the RMAC tournament semifinals at Regis.
“We want to gain more respect from our opponents, and I think they know we’re a force.”
And now, Sharpe wants to prove to the Central Region soccer committee that the Mavericks, indeed, belong in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
“We’ve gotta get the win to solidify an NCAA bid,” Sharpe said. “It’s gotta be looking good, but it’s so convoluted at the top. I’ve gotta think beating Metro (twice) and Regis (two of three) I think that’s gotta push us in.
“But in the other conference (Northern Sun), Mankato is playing St. Cloud and you’ve got to think Mankato will get a bid. But if St. Cloud upsets them and gets the automatic berth from that, there can be some real problems there.”
Six teams qualify for the Central Region playoffs, the tournament champion from each team and the next four highest ranked teams.
The Mavericks are eighth in the region. Winona State and Mary, ranked ahead of them, were both knocked off in the Northern Sun tournament, which should move the Mavs into the top six.
In successive games, the Mavericks have beaten the No. 4 (Metro) and No. 2 (Regis) teams in the region.
Now they face the region’s No. 1 team, Colorado School of Mines, at 1 p.m. Sunday at Regis for the RMAC tournament title. Mesa hasn’t won an RMAC tournament title since 1998, the first year the conference conducted a postseason tournament.
Mines, seeded second in the tournament, held off third-seeded Fort Lewis in the other semifinal, but it took two overtimes and a shootout.
Tied 1-1 after overtime, Mines led the shootout 2-1 heading into the final round. Danielle Hering’s goal clinched it for the Orediggers (15-2-2) with the Mavericks watching from the stands.
Mesa and Regis played to a scoreless tie in the first half, but 15 minutes into the second, the Mavericks put together a scoring run.
Kaitlynn Holt ran in from the far post at the 59:36 mark to take a pass from Kelci Crispe and score the only goal of the game.
“Kelci beat her player on the flank and whipped it in and Kaitlynn made a run from the far post for a volley,” Sharpe said. “It was really nice.”
Less than 30 seconds later, though, Regis’ Marissa Davis nearly tied the game.
“I thought it was in from my angle,” Sharpe said. “It was so crowded in the box and all of a sudden the ball was back in play. I asked Eric (Anderson), ‘Did that go off somebody’s foot?’ The box was that flooded; we had some help there.”
The ball caromed off the post, and the Rangers took only two more shots the rest of the way. The first went high and the second, with 2:15 to play, was saved by CMU keeper Sarah Schnetzler.
“Sarah had a phenomenal game, exceptional stuff,” Sharpe said.
Sharpe said the Mavericks have turned a corner mentally this season.
“The difference since I’ve been here in our program to those big four, Metro, Mines, Regis and Fort Lewis, was the mentality,” she said.
“In the last 10 years they’ve had so much success; we hadn’t beaten Metro since 2001 and the last time we beat Fort Lewis was 2006. Once we beat (Metro and Regis and tied Fort Lewis) in the regular season, we proved to ourselves we can do it.
“We look at ourselves as underdogs, but we’re the proven underdogs.”