Mavericks have chances, can’t convert against UCCS

Colorado Mesa’s Alan Hernandez heads a ball toward a teammate Monday in the first half against CU-Colorado Springs at Walker Field. Hernandez scored CMU’s goal on a penalty kick in a 1-1 overtime tie with the Mountain Lions.

Taking 15 shots and only three ending up on net is a good thing and a bad thing.

The Colorado Mesa University men’s soccer team generated a lot of chances Monday night against University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, but it’s the lack of conversion that worries coach Josh Pittman.

The Mavericks outshot the Cougars 15-8, but finished tied 1-1 in overtime at Walker Field.

“We had good chances to finish the game and we just didn’t do it,” Pittman said. “That’s kind of the thing that’s kicking us in the butt right now. Hopefully we can fix that going forward for Friday.”

Late in the second overtime, Patrick LaPorta took a pass in the middle of the penalty box and tried to redirect it toward the goal, only to have the ball sail high and wide.

The same scene played out on corner kicks — where CMU led 7-2 — with balls sailing just past the post or headers careening at just the wrong angle.

When CMU (2-3-1, 0-1-1 RMAC) ramped up the offensive pressure during overtime, the Mavericks outshot UCCS 7-2, with two of Colorado Mesa’s three shots on goal coming in extra time.

What did work against UCCS (1-1-2, 0-0-2 RMAC) was possession and defense.

“Everything starts with our organization and our shape and our defense,” Pittman said. “It allows us to win the ball back. The quicker we win the ball back, the more we can possess the ball and allow good, skilled players to maintain the ball.

“We’re good in the back, we’re good in the midfield, we just need to get better in that final third.”

CMU’s only goal came on a penalty kick in the 25th minute after a handball in the penalty box. Alan Hernandez converted, and gave the Mavericks an early lead.

About five minutes later, UCCS answered when James Roberts out-jumped the crowd on a free kick, directed a header toward the goal and watched it skip just beyond the reach of Mesa goalie Micah Conrads.

During the second half, play got more physical. An altercation between Nestor Escobar and Max Thomas gave the Mavericks their only yellow card of the game; UCCS had four yellow cards issued. A total of 28 fouls were called, and there were many non-calls on hard collisions.

Pittman said CMU will need to keep the physical style of play for future conference games. With physical play often comes injuries, something Pittman said CMU can combat with its deep bench.

“We have a few small injuries,” Pittman said. “But at the end of the day, it comes down to our depth. He have a lot of good players. We have a deep bench that we dug into tonight.

“But we can go even deeper without worrying at all, and that’s great for me as a coach. That’s the first time I’ve been able to say that during my time at Mesa.

“It’s an RMAC battle, and at the end of the day these points mean a ton to us. We’ve had good defense and good goalkeeping, we just need to put an attack together.”


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