Tie puts CMU men in second in jam-packed RMAC

For the seventh time in the last nine games, the Colorado Mesa University men’s soccer team shut out a conference opponent, forcing a physical 0-0 overtime draw with Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Hard and sometimes reckless tackles and three yellow cards highlighted the struggle. It was a style of play the Mavericks didn’t need, already missing defenders Skylar Roy and Austin Jex.

“We have a couple guys out with concussions, and hopefully they can pass all the tests and we can get them back for the weekend,” CMU coach Josh Pittman said.

Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play has ramped up. CMU has to take on sixth-place Metro State on Friday, and then take on Regis, ranked second in the nation, next Sunday.

The Mavericks sit tied for second in the RMAC, but second through seventh place are separated by five points. Besides Regis, Mesa is the only other RMAC team to receive votes in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America national poll. Fort Lewis, currently fifth in the RMAC standings, is the reigning NCAA Division II national champion.

It was the Skyhawks third national title in the past seven years.

“People don’t realize how good our conference is,” Pittman said. “We have maybe seven teams that could go deep in the NCAA tournament. One or two teams, maybe three if we were lucky, get to go (to the NCAA tournament). There’s so much talent, and the teams are so good. Every game is a battle to get points. You need every single one of them.”

After the conference postseason, teams are selected for the national tournament by a selection committee. While the goal is to play in the national tournament, Pittman stressed that the Mavericks are focused on their next opponent.

The magic number for the Mavericks is one. A draw would clinch CMU’s spot in the conference postseason.

CMU held Pueblo without a shot in the first half, and goalkeeper Micah Conrads, the reigning RMAC defensive player of the week, didn’t record a save until 24 minutes into the second half.

Strong defense has been a staple this season for the Mavericks. In conference play, CMU has averaged 0.4 goals against per game, and their season average of 0.73 goals against not only leads the conference, it ranks among the top 20 nationally. Conrads is first among goalkeepers in the conference with six shutouts, and he is second in save percentage and goals allowed.

“I don’t think I’m doing a lot,” Conrads said. “It’s mostly my defense. We’ve been communicating and working well as a unit. It’s been hard on us with injuries, but we have depth and guys willing to play new positions. Mike Bagheri used to be a holding mid, but now he’s worked back as a defensive mid. We’ve kept our communication through all of it.”

CMU WOMEN LOSE

Fort Lewis College scored twice in the first 11 minutes and led 3-0 at the half en route to a 4-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference women’s soccer victory Sunday over Colorado Mesa University.

Colorado Mesa dropped to 5-3-2 in the RMAC standings and now sits in sixth place after suffering its second straight conference setback. The Mavericks’ goal came in the 54th minute when Ashley Wallace scored on a breakaway with an assist from Darion Weigert. Fort Lewis, however, responded with the game’s final goal about three minutes later.

The Skyhawks (10-2-2, 6-2-2 RMAC) dominated in shots, taking 31 to Colorado Mesa’s 13, and they had a 13-3 advantage in shots on goal.

Emma Cannis had a hand in the first three goals for Fort Lewis, assisting on the first two and scoring the third one.


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