Colorado Mines tops Colorado Mesa for RMAC tourney title
DENVER — Playing in its first RMAC tournament championship since 2003, Colorado Mesa University’s women’s soccer team was hoping to climb one final mountain to reach the pinnacle of the conference.
The fourth-seeded Mavericks tried to find a way through or around the Colorado School of Mines defense Sunday afternoon at Regis University, but it just wasn’t happening.
The No. 9 Orediggers found the back of the net midway through the first half and added an insurance goal in the final minutes to post a 2-0 victory over CMU and claim the school’s first conference tournament title.
After victories over Metro State College and Regis in the first two rounds, the Mavericks (10-7-4) couldn’t make it three victories in five days.
“To have to play Wednesday and not have that bye like the (No.) 1 and 2 seeds do have is a serious disadvantage,” Colorado Mesa coach Erin Sharpe said. “You saw some real fatigue here today, but what I’m so proud of is we still fought through so well. We played with such heart and, really, we left it all out on the field.”
Having entered the tournament as the No. 8 team in the NCAA Division II Central Region rankings, CMU will have to wait until this evening to learn whether it earned one of six spots in the DII tournament.
“I think we definitely deserve it,” said senior Sara Islas after the Mavs knocked off two of the top four teams in the region. “We’ve come a long way and we’ve proven ourselves. We deserve to get in there.”
A victory over top-seeded and host Regis had Colorado Mesa thinking upset against Mines (15-2-3), the region’s top-ranked team. The Orediggers had other ideas, though, after getting past Fort Lewis on Friday in a shootout.
Mines struck first in the 20th minute after CMU goalkeeper Sarah Schnetzler came out of the box to challenge Anna Evans on a ball in the left corner.
Evans got there first and managed to cross the ball into the middle, and Mines senior Alison Oien was there to put it in the empty net for her first goal of the season.
“It started with the unfortunate scenario where we thought it was out (of bounds) and we sort of stopped,” Sharpe said. “We learned our lesson but unfortunately it cost us a goal.”
The Mavericks didn’t have a shot on goal in the first half but had Mines back on its heels in the final 25 minutes of the game. Colorado Mesa repeatedly worked the ball into the Mines end, but the defense did a good job clearing the ball out each time.
The Mavs got their first shot on goal with just more than 18 minutes remaining, but Mines keeper Penny Rogers made the stop.
Three minutes later, Islas headed the ball toward the net, but Rogers, the tournament MVP, made a leaping grab in the left corner.
“Our bodies were definitely fatigued,” Islas said. “But I know our hearts weren’t. We wanted it and we could have had it.”
Colorado Mesa moved an extra defender forward in the last five minutes in an attempt to gain some added offense, but Mines got the ball downfield to Megan Woodworth, who beat Schnetzler for an unassisted goal.
Colorado Mesa’s Kelly Parkhurst, Sam Burneo, Jessica Kent and Schnetzler were selected to the all-tournament team.
Hillary Duncan, a 5-foot-9 senior transfer from Oklahoma Christian, scored 14 points and junior forward Kelsey Sigl added 10 in a 65-48 exhibition loss to the University of Denver.
The Mavericks trailed 27-14 at halftime after shooting only 25 percent from the field. In the second half, though, they shot 42 percent and were outscored by only four points.
Colorado Mesa, which opens the season Nov. 18 at Cal State-Chico, turned the ball over 22 times. The Mavs’ biggest problem was stopping 5-11 senior forward Katelyn Murdoch, an All-America candidate who went 14 of 18 from the field and scored 28 points for DU. The Pioneers shot 51 percent from the field.
Katrina Selsor led Mesa with 10 rebounds.