CMU playoff hopes fade

A second-half collapse by the Colorado Mesa University men’s soccer team all but dashed their playoff hopes Friday night in a 3-2 loss to CSU-Pueblo.

The Mavericks (5-11-1, 5-8 RMAC)  are now two points behind CSU-Pueblo (5-9-3, 5-6-2) in the conference standings, and need a win at 3 p.m. Sunday at Walker Field against No. 22 Regis and a CSU-Pueblo loss to No. 19 Metro State to get in.

The ThunderWolves have the tiebreaker over the Mavs. Mesa lost to Regis 4-0 earlier this season.

“Sunday is a huge game for us,” freshman goalkeeper Micah Conrads said. “When we were over there we didn’t play our best game. They’re a tough team, and we’re going to have to fight for the win, but if we stay composed we have a chance. We have to respect them.”

Brandon Burton and Danny Molineaux gave the Mavericks two early chances, both blasting point-blank shots off the goalkeeper’s chest.

Molineaux got another chance in the 22nd minute when Burton was shoved from behind on a breakaway, setting up a free kick from just outside the penalty box. Molineaux buried a curving shot in the near side of the net to notch his team-high seventh goal of the season.

The Mavericks extended their lead when Stan Schrock scored his first goal of the season after he cleaned up a Molineaux corner kick that bounced around the box.

Ryan Hunter gave CSU-Pueblo its first chance in the 35th minute when he cut back across the penalty box and banged a looping shot off the right post.

With one minute remaining in the half, Conrads deflected a ThunderWolves shot from one yard out and then, as time expired, made a sprawling save to keep his shutout intact heading to halftime.

Trason Merritt snuck behind the Maverick defense in the 53rd minute and tapped home a wide-open shot off a pass from Robert Kinsey.

CSU-Pueblo drew even in the second when Alex Marin slid a free kick in front of the CMU net, where a diving Kinsey speared the ball into the right side of the net.

Less than two minutes later, Kinsey struck again when he sent a shot from just outside the box into the top right corner, giving the ThunderWolves their third goal of the second half, and the eventual win.

“They played well and we didn’t defend well in the second half,” CMU coach Josh Pittman said. “A 2-0 lead in soccer is tough because we sat back and they got the first goal and all that momentum.

“We didn’t play well in the midfield and that hurt us.”


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