Mesa soccer team faces tough road to regionals

Regional bid may hinge on RMAC tournament

An NCAA Division II regional playoff berth just got a little tougher.

The Mesa State College women’s soccer team fell 2-0 to No. 23 Fort Lewis on Wednesday at Walker Field shortly after the Mavericks fell one spot in the NCAA Central Region poll.

“We’re at a point now where even though we’re in the top 10 in the region, the only way we’re realistically going to get a bid now is by winning the conference tournament,” Mesa State coach Erin Sharpe said. “That’s not to say that’s not a viable option, but the ice has just gotten thinner by us not being able to beat anybody above us (in the regional rankings).

“We’ve got to get to that next level we’re knocking people off above us. I think a large degree of that is mental toughness and mental state of mind. I don’t care if somebody is supposed to beat us, we’re going to go beat them. That’s the next stage for this program. I’m confident we’ll get there. It just needs to happen in the next couple weeks. We still have Regis before the conference tournament.”

The Mavericks (8-7-0, 5-6-0 RMAC) are 0-5 against teams ahead of them in the regional rankings.

Mesa State not only lost an important game, the Mavericks lost senior captain Sherilyn Stoffel for the season with three fractures in her right leg, Sharpe said.

“It doesn’t make a sound that loud without coming through as a break,” Sharpe said.

Stoffel collided with Fort Lewis’ Jessica Otero with 25:29 left in the game and had to be taken to Community Hospital. Otero received a yellow card for the foul.

By that time, Fort Lewis (12-2-1, 8-2-1 RMAC) was managing a two-goal lead.

Jamie MacArthur gave the Skyhawks a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute when she scored from 25 yards out.

“We weren’t marking tight enough,” Sharpe said. “Fort Lewis plays very quickly and one-touch passing. If you’re not marked tight to bodies, you’re going to wind up chasing the ball. That’s exactly what happened. The ball got played out to a midfielder, who was standing wide open because we were sitting so deep. They took a one-shot and buried it.

“It’s a hard way to learn a lesson, and we fixed it. Unfortunately, we had to learn our lesson by being scored on that way.”

Five minutes later, Fort Lewis scored again when Laurel Reinhardt scored on an assist from Hayley Hollenga.

Dany Ramirez nearly scored for Mesa in the first few minutes of the second half, but her header on a cross pass from Megan Swan was wide left.

It was one of Mesa’s 11 shots for the game, four on goal.

“We did get some looks, but we didn’t capitalize enough,” Sharpe said. “There were a lot of shooting opportunities we didn’t take. There in the second half, we needed to dump the ball in the box as much as we could, given the score and conditions of the slick ground. We didn’t do it enough.”

Fort Lewis took 16 shots, including 13 on goal. Mesa goalkeeper Alicia Kahler made 11 saves.


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