For a second, it looked as if it was going to happen again. The team that had handed the #3 CSM men’s soccer team its only loss of the season, Regis University, jumped out to an early 1-0 lead and with momentum on their side, looked to pull off a second upset win over Mines in the opening round of the Division II NCAA tournament in Golden, CO.
In the first ever NCAA men’s soccer tournament game in Golden, Regis opened the scoring in the 8th minute as Ranger Nathan Kafer punched in an assist from teammate Ben Fredrickson. All of the sudden, the memories of the Oct 24 game which witnessed Regis upset the Orediggers 2-1. The Rangers had momentum, the crowd, and more importantly, confidence. This had the makings of a devastating end to a nearly perfect season.
Mines rebounded, and they rebounded in extraordinary fashion. Three minutes later, the Orediggers responded with a dominant 9 minutes of play. In the 11th minute, Junior Chike Sullivan knocked home a pass from freshman Tesho Akindele to even the score. The goal gave Sullivan his 10th score of the season and Akindele his 7th assist. In the 17th minute, Alex Nass gathered in a rebound and kicked home his 3rd goal on the year, giving Mines a lead they would not relinquish. Two minutes later, Sullivan added to his goal total as he skillfully curled a free kick around the Regis defense to deflate the Rangers.
The powerhouse that was Mines was not satisfied with its two goal lead, in the 32nd minute, freshman Baski Baker took advantage of another free kick opportunity and scored off an assist from Nass. Mines took a 4-1 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Regis’ last gasp at a comeback was denied as Kafer’s penalty kick rattled harmlessly off the crossbar and was soon cleared. Later, Nass added the icing on the cake for the Orediggers in the 59th minute, extending the lead to 5-1.
The loss for the Rangers ends a breakout season for a Regis team that was playing in its first NCAA tournament game in program history. They finished the year at 14-3-4.
The win for the Orediggers is the first tournament win for a Men’s soccer team. They continue their historic year with a second round game against Midwestern State University Sunday Nov. 14 in Wichita Falls, TX. Midwestern was ranked second nationally in the most recent Division II poll. The Mustangs defeated #8 Truman 3-2 in the first round and remain the only unbeaten team left in the tournament.
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