Mesa men’s soccer team blanks Griffins
After moving back into the national rankings this week, the Colorado Mesa men’s soccer team didn’t blink.
The Mavericks moved into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll at No. 24 on Tuesday, and Wednesday recorded another shutout, beating Westminster College 3-0 at Walker Field, their eighth straight win.
“That’s a conversation we had,” CMU coach Todd Padgett said. “Really, one way you can use the top 25 rankings throughout the year is if you’re out of it and you’re doing things the right way and you’re progressing the right way, chances are you’re going to be in it.
“I think we’re a worthy top-25 team, but these guys need to understand there’s no reason to have a setback.”
The Mavericks (9-1-3, 8-0-1 RMAC) certainly didn’t have a setback against Westminster (3-9-0, 2-7-0), with Malik Mennana scoring his first goal of the season less than five minutes into the game off a crossing pass from Kevin Del Mazo.
About 20 minutes later, Roy Abergil scored the first of his two goals, taking a cross from Moshe Perez.
After the Griffins adjusted their defense in the second half, moving an extra defender to the back, the Mavericks’ domination in shots went from 12-1 to 9-8 in the second. Padgett got just about everyone on the roster in the game.
Abergil scored the only goal of the second half on a penalty kick at the 52-minute mark. It gave him 15 goals this season, tied for second in Division II.
“What I was most impressed with was the players that came on that aren’t necessarily in the starting group or top 12 or 13, they did a job,” Padgett said. “They put their heads down and they worked. They performed.”
After the Mavericks play at CSU-Pueblo on Friday, they’ll get the weekend off to rest up for the stretch run. The first Division II regional rankings come out next week.
“I told the guys, we get through this weekend, the NCAA poll comes out for the first time next week, I really anticipate we’ll like where we’re at come that poll,” Padgett said.
Being .500 in conference play is a start, coach Jason Clare said, but the Mavericks need to keep moving forward, starting Friday night when the Mavericks play Fort Lewis at Walker Field.
“From where we’ve been, am I happy? Yes, it’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “But I think we’re five points below where we should be, if I’m being honest.”
With five games remaining, the Mavericks (5-5-2, 3-3-1 RMAC) are pushing to make the conference playoffs, and, Clare said, pushing even harder to host a first-round game. That will take some doing — the Mavericks are in eighth place, but only two games back of Fort Lewis (6-4-1, 5-2), which is tied for second.
“We know what we have to do to win and we all want to win and work hard at practice,” sophomore defender Mackenzie King said. “It’s coming together and we’re finally figuring it out a little bit better.”
Keep calm and volleyball on.
It could be the motto of the Mavericks this season, a team that keeps an even keel whether it’s up or down in a set.
“I will say we are very level-headed on the court as compared to other years I’ve been here,” senior defensive specialist Kricket Adleman said. “We know Coach (Dave Fleming) is kind of antsy over there when we aren’t doing a good job, knowing what we’re capable of and playing to that level.”
Senior outside hitter Gabi Dias knows the Mavs should play with a greater sense of urgency, especially early in matches.
“We can be three or four points down but I think we’re calm, we’ve got this,” she said. “I never think we panic in a game, which is kind of scary sometimes because we do need to play with urgency when we’re down, but at the same time, it’s good to be calm.”
The Mavericks (11-3, 5-1 RMAC) will need that calm urgency this weekend when they host Colorado Christian (14-5, 6-2) at 7 p.m. on Friday and No. 18 Colorado Mines (14-3, 8-0) at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
“Christian is probably supposed to be a wash and Mines is probably supposed to beat us, on paper,” Fleming said. “It’s an opportunity to show what we can do.”