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Mountain Lions take commanding lead in Steel & Silver Series

October 14, 2009 | 9:50 pm No comments
By George Tanner

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs took a commanding lead in the 2009-10 Steel & Silver Series Wednesday evening as the Mountain Lions women’s soccer team defeated Colorado State University-Pueblo 1-0 at Mountain Lion Stadium.

With the win, UCCS leads the rivalry series 14-0. Because 45 points are available, UCCS needs just nine more to clinch the series and the Ent Federal Credit Union Trophy, which goes to the winner. The Steel & Silver Series awards points to the winner of games between the schools in seven women’s and three men’s sports and a five-point bonus to the university whose student-athletes have the best grades. Mountain Lion teams won last season’s series with a score of 33-12 and have won the Ent Federal credit Union Trophy in each of the series’ three years of existence.

Wednesday’s win was bigger than most for UCCS. The women’s soccer teams play only once this season, so the victory was worth all four points available for women’s soccer.

“It’s a huge rivalry between the two schools, and that makes for a big game, no matter what,” UCCS coach Nichole (Rick) Ridenour said. “The fact that we get them only once this year makes for even bigger circumstances.”

Despite facing heavy pressure, UCCS freshman goalkeeper Kayla Millar recorded her third shutout in five starts since taking over for injured senior Ashley Armstrong. Millar made 10 saves. Her counterpart, CSU-Pueblo’s Randi Wallace, stopped nine shots.

Coury Pitt’s goal in the 15th minute was all the offense required by UCCS. Pitt closed on a Thunderwolves defender who was trying to control a bouncer, managed to bump the ball away, ran onto it and drilled it in.

“I saw her playing with the ball in the back, so I took the opportunity to tackle her,” Pitt said. “I hit (the ball) with the outside of my foot because I saw the goalie coming. The right side of the net was wide open.”

CSU-Pueblo’s hyper-physical style began to take its toll on UCCS, particularly late in the game. Over the final 25 minutes, the Thunderwolves outshot UCCS 8-2, and five of those shots require saves by Millar.

“It was really scrappy, and scrappy balls are then hardest for us to defend because you don’t know where the ball is going,” Millar said. “We were having trouble clearing (the ball) to where we needed to clear it.”

One person’s “scrappy” is another’s combat. The match devolved into a show of force, complete with body checks, grabbing, pushing and even the occasional blow. Two players needed to be helped from the field; one was taken to the hospital.

While upset that the game was allowed to get in that state, Ridenour was more upset by her team’s failure to appropriately deal with it.

“That’s what our girls need to learn, to play through it,” she said. “We can’t rely on the refs to make calls for us; we can’t rely on them to protect us. We have to play through it and hold the ball. We need to control the pace of the game and make our own adjustments to protect the team.”

The Mountain Lions left the field with a 5-5 record, 4-5 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, and winners of three of their past four. CSU-Pueblo dropped to 3-7-1, 2-7-1 in the RMAC.

“We’ve been doing a lot better,” Pitt said. “It took us time to get chemistry together and, once that clicked, we started passing around teams and learning how to score.”

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