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Missed opportunities doom Cheyenne Mountain in playoff loss
It was a night of missed opportunities for Cheyenne Mountain.
Shots sailing past the net by inches to the left, others off by inches to the right – even one off the post – left the Indians reeling in a 2-0 loss to visiting Mullen in the quarterfinals of the 4A state soccer tournament Tuesday night. Fourth-seeded Cheyenne Mountain controlled the game for much of the first 70 minutes before Mullen’s Josh Mascolo found the net twice late for the fifth-seeded Mustangs.
“We’ve got to finish our chances, and that’s all it comes down to,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Tomas Martinez said. “I knew it was going to be a tough game, because they play exactly the way we play. We’re kind of the type of team where, if we don’t get a ball in the net, it starts to frustrate us.”
Mascolo took a pass from Troy Branigan in space and popped it past Indians sophomore goalie Eric Frey with 8:13 remaining to break a scoreless tie that had seen both teams narrowly miss the net in both halves. Still reeling from the 1-0 deficit, Cheyenne Mountain surrendered another goal to Mascolo just 1:23 later.
“I thought the team played well and did the best we could,” Mascolo said. “They took the momentum in the second half, but we started pressing. I knew if we kept pressing, we’d get one, and we did.”
The Indians (14-4) had ample scoring chances – including a shot that hit the post just three minutes into the game – but could not find the net behind Mullen goalie Liam O’Connor. Frey kept Cheyenne Mountain in the game with a number of stellar diving and one-handed saves throughout the game, but could not hold off Mascolo in the end.
“We’ve got to put those shots on frame,” said Martinez, who will lose 10 seniors from this year’s squad. “We had nine shots in the second half, but none of them were on frame. We’ve got to force the keeper to save something.”
The Mustangs (11-5-2) are back in the state semifinals for the second consecutive year, while Cheyenne Mountain saw its four-game winning streak come to an end.
“It was a great game, and worthy of a quarterfinal, for sure,” Mullen coach Matt Guglielmo said. “There was a 15-minute period in the second half where Cheyenne Mountain had all of the play, and I thought that, if we could just weather that, we’d get a goal.
“(Mascolo) is fantastic, and he shoots the ball like it comes out of a howitzer. He was opportunistic, and we did what we had to do to get the win.”