Mines ends Mavs’ soccer season in overtime
ARVADA — The Mesa State College women’s soccer team knew that in order to advance in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament, the Mavericks couldn’t allow Colorado School of Mines standout Kayla Mitchell to be the one to beat them.
The conference’s second-leading scorer had 21 goals going into Wednesday’s quarterfinal game at Long Lake Ranch Park, and the junior made it 22 goals on the season with a late score that forced overtime.
Mesa State focused on shutting Mitchell down in the OT, but unfortunately forgot about Elizabeth Oba.
The sophomore took a pass from Mitchell just more than three minutes into the extra session and punched it past goalkeeper Julie Rasmussen, giving Mines the 2-1 victory and a berth in the semifinals Friday against Regis.
Mavericks coach Erin Sharpe was concerned about Mitchell, but said Oba was just as big a threat.
“We knew that we can’t give her an inch, either,” Sharpe said. “For whatever reason we broke down and we gave her 10 yards of free space, and she got it in.”
For the second game in a row, Mesa State (12-9-1) let a late lead slip away. On Sunday, Metro State scored the tying goal with less than 12 minutes remaining in regulation before winning in overtime.
It was the same story Wednesday against Mines. Kylie Kegans’ goal in the final five minutes of the first half put the Mavericks on top, but Mitchell’s score knotted it up with less than 16 minutes on the clock.
The junior tucked a ball from 25 yards out on the right side into the upper corner of the net, breaking through after a number of earlier chances went high, wide or were stopped by Rasmussen.
Mitchell was constantly shadowed, with the backfield trio of Marissa Cascio, Deborah Vigil and Brenna Rice doing a solid job of taking her out of the game at times.
“I get so frustrated because I want to do it for my team,” said Mitchell, who took a game-high 10 shots, only four of which were on goal.
Mitchell had another opportunity to end the game in regulation, but a free kick went just over the crossbar. That allowed Oba to make the Orediggers’ season-saving play in overtime.
“(Mitchell’s) such a strong player on the ball. Other teams realize that and they defend her all the time,” Oba said, “which really opens it up for the rest of our team to make plays, too.”
Kegans’ goal was her fifth of the season and was one of six shots Mesa State took in the first half. That momentum shifted in the second half though, as the Orediggers (12-4-3) prevented the
Mavericks from taking a single attempt the rest of the way.
Sharpe was pleased with the strides Mesa State made this season, and said her squad is starting to understand its full potential. The Mavericks graduate Kegans and Vigil.
“The first step was having a successful conference run so we could get ourselves in a situation where we’re going for a conference championship and trying to get that regional berth,” she said.
In the new Central Region rankings released Wednesday, the Mavericks are eighth.
“The players here realize and have come to believe in and appreciate that the long-term goals for this program to be a national contender are a reality.”