Colorado Mesa men’s soccer team looking for scoring
The Colorado Mesa University men’s soccer team rediscovered its scoring punch last season with the help of some new players.
The Mavericks may need to find that ability to score again this season after losing 13 players, including eight who accounted for 20 of 28 goals.
Forward Danny Molineaux, originally from England, helped Mesa bounce back in 2010 from a dismal 2009 when the Mavs scored 13 goals and won two times in 19 games.
“It was tough (early last season),” Molineaux said. “The team struggled the year before. There were a bunch of new players trying to adapt quickly.”
The Mavericks tied a program best with 10 wins and Molineaux played a large role.
“I was grabbing as many quick forwards as possible,” Mesa coach Josh Pittman said. “He’s done well for us. Hopefully, he’ll have a good year.”
Molineaux, who scored three goals last season, will need another forward to pick up the scoring punch.
Senior Mouhamad Gaye, sophomore Alan Hernandez and redshirt freshman Steve Palma, a Central High graduate, are the likely candidates.
Pittman, though, isn’t worried about the offensive end as much as the defensive end, in particular goalkeeper.
For the second consecutive season, he’ll have a new starter there after losing senior Chris Raines.
Redshirt freshmen Micah Conrads and Caleb Ealey, a Grand Junction High School product, are competing for to be the keeper.
Senior Bashiru Ali is back on defense, but will be surrounded by three new players.
The midfield will include sophomore Marco Escobar, senior Nick Labor, and three new players.
“We have a lot of good, young, talented, intelligent players,” Pittman said. “From top to bottom, this is the most talented and intelligent players we’ve had. Now, we have to translate that to the field.”
The Mavericks, though, start the season with three players out with undisclosed injuries, including starters Ethan Johnson and Stan Schrock. Another returning starter, Marco Angelo, is out for an undisclosed reason.
Mesa opens the season at 8 tonight night at Cal State-Dominguez Hills, then plays Saturday at Cal State-Los Angeles.
“A lot of (other) coaches said I was crazy to do this, but this is what our conference is like,” Pittman said. “I said, ‘Let’s go for it. Let’s play against the best and see where we stand.’ “
Dominguez Hills won the national title in 2008 and is picked to win the California Collegiate Athletic Association South Division. Los Angeles was ranked No. 1 at one point last season before injuries curtailed its season.
The Colorado Mesa women’s team lost two key players, but has 10 returning starters and is confident it can improve on last season’s disappointing finish.
The Mavericks finished 5-10-3 (3-9-2 RMAC), but coach Erin Sharpe believes her team could’ve won 16 games.
“The thing that’s exciting for me is we had seven new starters last year,” Sharpe said. “As good as we were last year, we could’ve been 16-2. If you look at our games, we out-possessed and out-shot (the opponent). We couldn’t execute. I think a lot of that had to do with a lack of experience.
“Instead of two weeks of preseason, we had a year and that’s showing. Now, we need to make sure we’re consistent and get better. Our ability to finish and our decisions in the box are much better than last year.”
The Mavericks lost their all-time leading goal scorer in Dany Ramirez, but Sara Islas, who led the team in goals last season, is back. Junior Jackie Ramsey returns at forward.
Mesa has a strong group of returning midfielders in junior Kelci Crisp, senior Kelly Parkhurst and senior Sophia Whigham.
Sophomore defender Samantha Bruno, a preseason All-RMAC pick, is back this season and is joined by junior Jessica Kent and sophomore Leilani Wiernicki.
Although the Mavericks’ starting goalkeeper Alicia Kahler is gone, senior Arielle Harris appears ready to take her spot. She is challenged by freshman Sarah Schnetzier.
Mesa begins the season against Minot State (N.D.) at 3 p.m. today in San Bernardino, Calif. The Mavericks play Cal-Poly Pomona at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Los Angeles.