Mesa soccer, volleyball teams trying to make RMAC tourneys

Colorado Mesa’s Brandon Burton, 2, and his Mav teammates still have a chance to make the RMAC tournament, but they need to win one more game than CSU-Pueblo - ironically, Mesa’s opponent Friday.



Colorado Mesa University’s men’s soccer team needs to win one more game than CSU-Pueblo this weekend.

The women’s soccer team needs to earn one point in its final two games.

The volleyball team needs to pass the team it’s tied with, New Mexico Highlands, this weekend and stay ahead next week.

If all that happens, all three teams will earn spots in their respective RMAC tournaments.

Only a few weeks ago, the thought of reaching the conference tournament seemed out of reach for the young men’s soccer team, which was struggling to score goals, let alone win games.

“We’ve changed our focus,” said coach Josh Pittman, whose team plays CSU-Pueblo at 4 p.m. Friday and Regis at 3 p.m. Sunday. “Our focus is not worrying about the opponent. It’s a good lesson I’ve learned as a coach. We’re worrying about us, and if we can do what we do well, then at least it’ll put us in a good position to be successful.

“When we were putting a lot of focus on the opponent and what we needed to do against them, they were more concerned about the other team than ourselves. We’re now so focused on everything about us, it’s been very beneficial to us.”

A tough early season schedule rolled into a rugged RMAC schedule, and the Mavs, who start anywhere between seven and nine freshmen and sophomores, were overwhelmed.

“We weren’t able to generate that confidence to get going and I think that added a lot of weight and pressure to what we were doing,” Pittman said.

“Every game is so much pressure against the top opponents. We were playing pretty well. We haven’t been beaten by too many teams; Regis beat us and the first game against Fort Lewis, but the others, we did to ourselves.”

Two days after losing 4-0 at Regis, the Mavericks regrouped and beat Metro State 2-1 in overtime. A 1-0 loss to then-No. 1 Fort Lewis followed, then the Mavs won twice on the road last week to put themselves in contention.

“That was a big one,” Pittman said of the win against Metro. We haven’t beaten them, but we feel we match up with them very well.

“There are six games this year where we should have gotten points and we messed up. Now those guys aren’t messing up against those teams and hopefully we can continue that on Friday.”

The women’s soccer team could have wrapped up a spot in the past two weeks, but went 1-2-2.

Still, the Mavericks (6-6-4, 5-2-4) have 19 points in RMAC play, and a win or a tie against Colorado Christian on Friday night or CU-Colorado Springs on Sunday will give them enough points to claim the final spot.

A couple of wins could vault them into the No. 5 seed ahead of New Mexico Highlands.

Highlands is the volleyball team’s key opponent this weekend, tied with the Mavericks at 4-10 in the RMAC.

The conference volleyball coaches opted to take the top four teams from each division into the playoffs this season instead of the division winners and the next six best teams.

That opened the door for the Mavericks, who are tied for fourth in the West Division with Highlands.

Coach Dave Fleming has made just about every adjustment he can think of in practice and matches to help the Mavericks play consistently.

“I’ll try anything different, besides water polo,” he said. “I don’t think that will help us. We have tried everything, keeping score of everything we do in practice, making everything competitive so they get used to the competition.”

Injuries have taken their toll, starting with losing senior setter Krista Ubersox the first week of the season. Middle blockers Antoinette McCormick (knee) and Kelley Johnson (concussion) and outside hitters Kelly Regimbal (concussion) and Rebecca Sellers (ankle) have all missed matches.

Fleming switched setters last weekend, giving freshman Jordyn Moody, who has played through tendinitis and a badly bruised hip, a physical and mental break.

Sophomore defensive specialist Sunni Rae Baird moved into the starting setter’s role for the first time since high school and led the Mavs to a sweep at Western State. Baird is penciled in to start this weekend.

Fleming isn’t accustomed to being 9-15, but said if the Mavericks can get to the conference tournament, anything can happen.

“We’re talented enough to compete with everybody,” he said. “We have to get comfortable with the competition part of it.

“We could go in (to the RMAC tournament) with a nothing-to-lose attitude, and I don’t think anyone wants to play us with a nothing-to-lose attitude.”


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