Sept. 21, 2015
Peeking out of the construction on Nevada is a sea of color: a shining blue with a flash of yellow, deep green lined by white and yellow, bright blocks of red, white and blue, and finally a sea of blue spotted with four stars.
All these flags hang, representing the players of the men’s soccer team, whether they have graduated, are playing in their last year or are just starting.
With players from Sweden and all over the United States, this year’s team is no exception to that history.
“With our team being so young, this is a group of guys you can get behind for years to come,” said head coach Johnnie Keen. “Our team represents the diversity of the student body at UCCS and our flags celebrate that fact.”
The team had a winning record entering conference play on Sept. 18, after a 2-1 start to the season.
Coming off a 3-2 loss to Eastern New Mexico to begin the season, the Mountain Lions defeated nationally ranked Fort Hays State at home, 4-2.
A goal in the first half from sophomore forward Jake McAllister started the Mountain Lions off. Sophomore forward Josh Berntsson and senior midfielder Sebastian Hertzberg both scored within 4 minutes of each other in the early part of the second half to extend UCCS’ lead.
Fort Hays answered with two goals in less than two minutes to bring the score to 3-2, but junior defender Antonio Roble put the nail in the coffin in the 71st minute and the Mountain Lions took the win.
UCCS then defeated Newman 2-1, with goals from junior midfielder J.R. Calhoun and sophomore defender Conor Langenbahn.
While the offense is a mix of upperclassmen and a few underclassmen, the defense has no seniors and is made up mostly of underclassmen.
“There hasn’t been much trouble from the sophomores, most of us got a good amount of playing time last year, so we know what we can do and also what the team needs,” Berntsson said.
“Concerning the freshman, they are a good group. What I try to do when playing with new players is to figure them out, try to see how they think and play the game, then with time I can try to predict their movements and thought process.”
Keen knows the experience his offense brings is important to the team and their goal of returning to the RMAC tournament, where they fell in the championship game to Colorado Mines in 2014.
After games at Colorado Mesa and Westminster, UCCS returns to Mountain Lion Stadium on Sept. 25 for a game against Colorado Christian at 7 p.m. and then they face defending RMAC champion Colorado Mines on Sept. 27 at 1 p.m.