Colorado Mesa University jumped 11 spots to break the HeroSports Top 25 this week, with a stingy defense propelling the Mavericks to a six-game win streak.
CMU (9-2-1) landed at BR-17 in the newest HeroSports poll, and sits atop Division II’s Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference with a 7-1 league mark. Fueling CMU’s run up in the rankings were wins over higher-ranked conference foes BR-10 Regis and BR-25 Metro State.
The Mavs had looked strong early in the season, starting out with a 2-0 win over a good St. Edwards team, and had cracked the HeroSports Top 20, even with an early loss Midwestern State. But CMU stumbled again Sept. 21 in a bad 3-0 loss to the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs that dropped the Mavs down to BR-34 in the HeroSports poll.
But since then, the CMU defense has shut the door on opponents, giving up just two goals during the six game win streak. And while the Mavs’ offense hasn’t been particularly explosive, with the defense keeping clean sheets, a goal a game or so has been enough to get the job done.
“As a coach you really want to have a good foundation, a good spine of your team defensively, and we certainly have that,” first year Colorado Mesa Coach Todd Padgett told KJCT TV in Grand Junction this week. “We’re tough to score on, and now we’re scoring a goal – a little bit over that – a game, and if we can keep that going, we’ll like where we’re at come the end of the year.”
Most recently, CMU avenged that earlier RMAC loss to BR-63 UC-Colorado Springs, beating the Mountain Lions 1-0 on Sunday on Roy Abergil’s 25th minute strike, his sixth of the season.
The defensive success has come despite an unusual time-sharing set-up in goal. While Micah Conrads got most of the minutes between the pipes early in the season, during the last few weeks, Brandyn Bumpas has gotten most of the starts in goal. But the two continue to share duties, with Conrads getting the start, and the shutout, in the Mavericks’ recent win over UC-Colorado Springs.
Bumpas said the two are part of a bigger picture, a defensive unit that bails each other out.
“We’ve had the best defense in the RMAC for years,” Bumpas told KJCT. “It’s just reassuring to know that if it gets past them you’ve still got (one of) the two of the best goalkeepers in the RMAC, and if it gets past us, chances are one of those in the back line are cutting you down, too.”
Colorado Mesa plays at Colorado Christian on Friday following Wednesday’s match at Colorado School of Mines.