Men’s Soccer rallies to remain unbeaten in RMAC

by Joe Azar

Entering this weekend, CMU’s run in the RMAC propelled them to a national ranking and the top spot in the conference. The last time the Mavs dropped points was over a month ago in a scoreless draw on the road against Metro State.

This past Friday both teams faced off at Walker Field, with the Mavs showing the progress they have made during their winning streak in a 3-0 CMU victory en route to another weekend sweep.

Unlike the game back in September, the Mavs were not held scoreless for long. Five minutes into the game, Moshe Perez took a corner kick that ended up for grabs inside the box. It ended up at the feet of defenseman Slater Elkind, who took a shot that rocketed into the upper corner of the net to give the team a 1-0 lead over the Roadrunners. It was the third consecutive game CMU scored in the opening five minutes of the match.

“If you look back at the season, one of the issues we were having early were slow starts,” head coach Todd Padgett said. “And it seems as though that is something that we have corrected.”

“When you score quick it takes a lot of pressure and frustration off of you,” striker Roy Abergil said. “Sometimes when you don’t score you start to get frustrated and more nervous because you know you’re the better team, and it’s absolutely a game changer when you score so early in the game. “

Malik Mennana dribbles past Metro State players. Joe Azar | Criterion

Despite the early goal, the Roadrunners continued to get pressure and get on the nerves of CMU players. As the halftime whistle blew, Abergil and midfielder Moshe Perez confronted some of the Metro players after members of the Metro State team made some anti-semitic remarks towards the two Israeli players.

“It’s always a great game against Metro and it’s always an emotional game,” Padgett said. “So the conversation we had at halftime wasn’t about ‘X’s’ and ‘O’s’ it was about the task at hand. The task at hand was getting the three points and maintaining our position in the conference.”

Moshe and Abergil got their revenge against the Metro players and secured three points on the night with two late goals. After a defensive clearance, Perez had plenty of time to find Abergil on a long ball across the field. The goalie attempted to grab the ball, but whiffed it on the slide, leaving an open net for Abergil to get another goal on the season.

On the third goal, it was Perez to Abergil once again, this time on a pass inside the box to an open net after the Metro goalkeeper could not catch up to the two players after attempting to score on a corner on the other side of the field. There would be no shutout this time as CMU once again took down an RMAC opponent and extended their win streak to double-digits.

On Sunday afternoon against UCCS, the Mavs were faced with a more challenging situation to keep their undefeated streak in the conference alive. CMU started the game forcing passes along the wings, which the Mountain Lions read and defended well in the opening half. The visitors would get rewarded for their strong play 28 minutes in when Alex Vonholle took a shot from 12 yards out that beat goalkeeper Briley Guarneri and put CMU down 1-0.

“We came out flat, we came out uninspired and we came out lethargic,” Padgett said. “And that hasn’t been an issue when we’ve been on this run.”

“I think we came out a little too confident and a little too sleepy,” Abergil said. “And at halftime, we had a talk that we have to pick it up and pick up the energy for the team, and I think from the opening whistle in the second half you could see that.”

In the second half, CMU began to breakthrough UCCS’ defense. In the 60 minute, Kevin Del Mazo crossed the ball into the box that Luis Schraidt shot into the left corner of the goal for the equalizer.

“I just happened to be in the right position,” Schraidt said. “I was just happy to score.”

The game would remain tied for only eight minutes. Perez delivered a ball over eight defenders for Roy Abergil to get a one-on-one chance with the goalkeeper. Like many others before him, the UCCS goalkeeper lost that battle to the Israeli striker, who netted his 48th career goal that proved to be the game-winner. That was the seventh time this season Perez assisted Abergil and the midfielder now has five assists in the last four games.

Luis Schraidt celebrates his goal on Sunday. Joe Azar | Criterion

“We have a good connection,” Abergil said. “We just look into each other’s eyes and we know what’s going on. I know what Moshe’s going to do and he knows what I’m gonna do and that’s exactly how that goal happened.”

With the 2-1 win, CMU is now one win away from clinching the RMAC regular season championship and the right to host the RMAC tournament in two weeks. Regardless of the results this upcoming weekend, CMU made Walker field their fortress once again this year, going undefeated at home with only one draw out of 12 home games.

Next weekend they look to become RMAC champions against No.14 Regis on Friday and on Sunday they take on South Dakota School of Mines, who are the second worst team in the conference.


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