Very rarely does the offending team agree with an offside call.

Disagreeing with one Thursday afternoon cost the Colorado Mesa men's soccer team dearly in a 1-0 loss to Fort Lewis in the RMAC Tournament quarterfinals at Walker Field.

"You hear all the time, you say 'next thing.' '' CMU coach Andrew Conniff said of the Mavs' immediate reaction to an offside call on an attack in the 29th minute.

They were slow to get organized on defense, and 28 seconds after the offside call, Loic Jean-Baptiste scored for Fort Lewis.

"To be honest, I don't think any of us on the bench went on to the next thing because we were still complaining about the call. I guess it has to come from us as well," Conniff said.

Jean-Baptiste sent the ball to the far side of the net, away from a sliding Brendan Brown at the near post, for the only goal of the game.

"It was a long ball over the top. I told Noah (Rosenberg) away and he kind of misjudged the ball and I'd made my move to come back and (Jean-Baptiste) got there before Noah did," said Brown, who just before the game was selected the RMAC keeper of the year. "He's a good striker, that's why he's one of the best in the league."

"That's part of not being organized from the offside call," Conniff said. "You're scrambling, you're not switched on and it's a bounce. That's a good player. If there's somebody who's going to hurt us I'd want it to be him, but at the same time, not."

Despite giving up that one goal, the Mavericks, whose season ended at 10-5-3, had several good chances in the second half to get the tying goal. Lawan Abary, who took seven shots in his final game, missed just wide on a header with less than 28 minutes to play. A pair of corner kicks were off the mark, and with 21:10 remaining, Ramses Atahualpa sent a pass from the wing to Abary, whose shot was wide.

"At the end of the day it meant the end of the season if you can't score," Brown said. "We kind of deserve it, but it's a sad way to lose."

Another shot by Abary, this one with 15:34 remaining, found the back of the net, but just as the Mavericks started to celebrate, they noticed the sideline flag raised, signalling another offside call and disallowing the goal.

After Fort Lewis' Ty Lang was issued a red card after a hard tackle — CMU's bench was assessed a yellow card at the same time — the Mavericks pressed the attack even more. Less than 20 seconds after the cards, the Mavericks appeared to score another goal, but again were called for being offside.

"We don't have a good angle (from the bench) on the calls late, but that was a huge frustration for the group," Conniff said.

With 10 minutes to play, Mesa had another golden opportunity to tie the game when Fort Lewis keeper Peter Byrne came out of the goal box and the Mavs rushed in. Abary's shot was blocked, and as players were jockeying for the rebound, Kevin Chavez was called for a foul against Byrne and drew a yellow card.

Byrne, who had seven saves for the Skyhawks (11-4-4), made three from point-blank range against Atahualpa and Abary in the final seven minutes and sent Fort Lewis into Sunday's semifinals at Regis.

Playing with a sense of urgency in the second half, Colorado Mesa took 17 shots in the final 45 minutes and 24 in the game. With the lead, Fort Lewis was content to play defense, taking only one shot in the second half and seven overall. Creating and finishing chances in the box has been a problem for the Mavericks all season.

"We probably saw more touches in the box than we've had in a week or two in the last 20 minutes," Conniff said. "In training (Wednesday) we worked on playing in and around the area and developing some composure there, and still when the moment comes, you can see we had some chances around the box that we were sending way over. It's easy in the moment to lose yourself. Some of the classiest goals are just placed into a corner or kicked out to a side of the keeper and we were trying to tear the leather off the ball."

All-RMAC: Brown, Rosenberg and Abary made the RMAC first team, with Aaron Martinez, Peter Vandam and Niall Shaffery on the honorable mention team.

Brown, Rosenberg and Shaffery also made the COSIDA Academic All-District team and Ryanne Parker made the women's Academic All-District team. All four are eligible for Academic All-America honors.

Brown secured CMU's second straight keeper of the year award from the conference, following Briley Guarneri.

"It's nice," Brown said. "It's something we try to aim for at the start of the year as a goalkeeping group, but at the end of the day, we didn't win anything as a team. We don't have ring on our finger."

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