Oct. 8, 2012
Despite a difficult beginning to the 2012 campaign, the UCCS men’s soccer team has hit its stride.
After a 0-2 start, the Mountain Lions took on cross-town rival Colorado College on Sept. 5 and gained their first victory of the season.
“That was a big win against CC, and it really raised our confidence,” said first-year head coach Johnnie Keen.
With a couple of personnel changes and a “think defense first” mentality, the Mountain Lions have won their last four games, including a 3-2 victory against defending Division II national champion Fort Lewis College on Sept. 23 in Durango.
“Everyone worked hard for each other,” said senior striker Mash Shaswar, a graduate student in sports medicine with an emphasis in strength and conditioning. “It was a crazy game,” he said.
Senior captain and center midfielder Brett Drefs, who is majoring in business with an emphasis in marketing, echoed Shaswar. “I was just extremely excited, especially since it was the last time I was going to play there,” he said.
According to Coach Keen, UCCS hasn’t beaten Fort Lewis in Durango since 1999. “We had a game plan, and everyone stuck to it,” Keen said.
Shaswar, the team’s leading scorer, is one of six players on the squad not originally from the U.S. Each player brings a different perspective to the team.
“They all bring completely different backgrounds, and in turn, completely different viewpoints on the game,” said Keen.
Shaswar, from London, came to Colorado because it “had sunshine and skiing … plus, the coach was interested in me.”
“It’s very different from London,” Shaswar added. “Everything here is so spread out, and the sun actually shines here.”
Keen is pleased with the turnaround of his team. “We are starting to play for each other, and now that we’ve found the winning formula, we just have to perfect it,” he said.
In the coming week, the Mountain Lions will play five consecutive games at home. On Oct. 9 at 7 p.m., the Mountain Lions play host to rival CSU-Pueblo, and Adams State comes to town Oct. 11 at 7 p.m .
Their final regular season home game is Oct. 14 at 2 p.m., when Fort Lewis comes to Mountain Lion Stadium looking to avenge the previous loss.