Teetering Mavs: Mesa on verge of missing RMAC tournament
A postseason spot is becoming more elusive for the Mesa State College women’s soccer team.
One week after falling to eighth in the NCAA Division II Central Region poll, the Mavericks continue to stumble on the field and are teetering on the edge of reaching the RMAC tournament.
Colorado Christian moved ahead of Mesa State in the RMAC standings with a 1-0 victory Friday afternoon at Walker Field. The Mavericks lost for the fifth time in their past six games and were shut out for the third consecutive game.
The Cougars (8-6-3, 5-6-2 RMAC) moved into fifth place with 17 points. The Mavericks (8-9-0, 5-8-0 RMAC) fell into a tie for sixth place, the final RMAC tournament spot, with the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (6-8-0, 5-8-0 RMAC).
“We talked about how this was a must-win beforehand,” Mesa State coach Erin Sharpe said. “It’s not to say we’re absolutely out of the conference tournament now, but we have to win the next two and we have to beat Regis.”
Mesa State plays at noon Sunday at Nebraska-Kearney (1-14-1, 0-11-1 RMAC), then hosts CSU-Pueblo (4-11-2, 3-9-1 RMAC) next Friday before finishing the regular season a week from Sunday at Regis (12-3-2, 9-2-2 RMAC).
Colorado Christian is looking to qualify for the RMAC tournament for the first time since 1999, when coach Tammy Wishard played for the Cougars.
“We came in here really prepared to defend the 4-3-3, but not defend it so much they are pulling us out of our game,” Wishard said. “We’ve been good at executing all year. We came up with a good game plan and executed it to come away with a win. Our big problem has been scoring. Today was not just a win, but (getting over) another obstacle of getting the ball in the back of the net.”
Junior midfielder Jessica Smith moved the Cougars one step closer to an RMAC tournament berth with her third goal of the season on an assist by Nicole Gill in the 68th minute.
“It was a beautiful goal,” Sharpe said. “It was not saveable by our goalkeeper, but our defense broke down to allow them to get that shot off.”
Smith’s goal was one of eight shots for Colorado Christian, including six on goal. Mesa goalkeeper Alicia Kahler made five saves.
Mesa State took 17 shots, but only three on goal.
“Soccer is an interesting game; you can dominate the opponent, you can outshoot them by a large margin, but at the end of the day, you have to put the ball in the back of the net,” Sharpe said. “In the attacking third, we’ve got to get it done. We’re took predictable. We’ve got to take more chances to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Mesa had a couple of good looks in the second half, including one by Jessica Kent in the penalty box, but her shot was deflected by a defender.
Much like the women, the Mesa State men dominated play, taking more shots, but losing 1-0 to Regis at Walker Field.
The Mavericks (2-12-2, 2-8-1 RMAC) lost for the fifth time in their past six games and were shut out for the ninth time this season.
“I’m proud of how hard they worked,” Mesa State coach Josh Pittman said. “They could easily give up in the situation we are in now, but they played as hard as they could play. Their goalie came up with two enormous saves for them. What more can be said?”
Regis (8-3-4, 6-1-4 RMAC) scored in the 64th minute when Jordan Brandel kicked in a loose ball.
“One breakdown, the ball bounces back to them and they get it,” Pittman said. “We haven’t had those breaks yet this year. We get the ball bounce back to us.”
Regis took 10 shots, five on goal.
Mesa State took 18 shots, six on goal. Regis goalkeeper Wally Fink made six saves, including a diving save late in the game to prevent the tying goal.
“We’ve been chasing the game almost every game,” Pittman said. “We’re throwing more players forward and they are pushing more back. The possession becomes more to our attacking half. We’re going to get more chances, but we still need to get the ball in the back of the net.”