Empty tank results in loss to Metro St.
There simply wasn’t enough left in the tank against one of the top teams in the country.
No. 15 Metro State scored an early goal and raced away with a 3-1 victory over the Mavericks on Sunday at Walker Field.
“You can see why Metro is a top 20 team in the country,” Mesa State coach Josh Pittman said. “They needed a win to stay in the NCAA tournament and assure themselves of second place in the conference. Friday night’s game was really big and emotional for us. You could tell we were pretty flat coming out today. They put us under a lot of pressure. (The Roadrunners) are a good side.
“They are very well organized and when you are, you take care of the ball. When we got the ball back we were tired and not making good enough decisions. We spent a lot of time defending. When you do that it makes it easier for the other team to break you down.”
Metro State (11-5-3, 8-3-3 RMAC) will be the No. 2 seed in the RMAC tournament hosted by RMAC regular season champion Fort Lewis in Durango. Mesa State (10-10-0, 6-8-0 RMAC) was eliminated from RMAC tournament contention last week.
“If you told us we were going to finish 10-10 and not make the RMAC, I think every player in that locker room and the coaching staff would be disappointed,” Pittman said. “We understand that this conference is one of the best in the country and every game is a battle. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and what we need to do to compete and win. The bottom line if you’re not going to score goals, you’re not going to win games. I think we had 28 goals this year in 20 games. Last year, we scored 33 goals in 17 games. If you had three goals to our total, we might be sitting with three more wins and talking about playing in the first round of the (RMAC) tournament.”
Metro’s Ola Sandquist quickly put the Roadrunners ahead with a goal assisted by Kellen Johnson in the third minute then Johnson scored on an assist in the 25th minute.
Any hopes Mesa State had of coming out strong in the second half and rallying was gone when Metro’s Tyler Hambrick scored three minutes into the second half for a 3-0 lead.
The Mavericks, who were shut out seven times this season, avoided an eighth when redshirt freshman Andy Cornia dribbled through the defense and scored.
“Andy can be one of the top players in this conference,” Pittman said. “We know what he can do. He is a special player. He’s been playing on one leg all year.”
Cornia has some cartilage damage, Pittman said, but is expected to return next season healthy.
It was the final collegiate game for Mesa State senior forward Eric Anderson, who leaves as the Mavericks all-time leading scorer with 18 goals and 41 points.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Anderson said. “When I come back next year to go to school and I see the team playing, it’s going to bring back memories. It’s going to be hard, but it’s also a lot of good memories. It was fun playing with these guys.
“Being only our second year (of the program) and getting nationally rankings is pretty cool. We made teams like this know they have to come play if they want to win. We’re a competitor and people don’t expect that with a two-year program.”
Anderson, who will be continuing his education at Mesa State next fall, plans on coaching club soccer and keeping in touch with the team.
The Mavericks earned their first national ranking with six wins in their first seven games, but Mesa hit a roadblock, losing five consecutive games, including four without scoring a goal as it stumbled down the stretch.
“Hopefully, we get more and more competitive,” Pittman said. “We lose one player, but we’ve got a great core. We were hit hard with injuries toward the end of the year and that was tough. Hopefully, we keep training in the offseason. The time’s short here. With each passing day, they understand that.”