GOLDEN – Along with exacting revenge of a one-nil defeat earlier in the season, the Colorado School of Mines men's soccer team clinched the second seed in the RMAC Tournament with a 4-0 shutout of UC-Colorado Springs Friday afternoon at the CSM Soccer Stadium in Golden.
With a 11-4-2 overall record and 8-3-2 mark in the conference, the Orediggers earned their 13th consecutive RMAC Tournament appearance and an automatic berth into one of the two semifinals at regular season conference champion and overall No. 1 seed Regis on November 2.
After a stinging 1-0 defeat at UCCS (8-7-1, 7-5-1 RMAC) back on Sept. 28 knocked Mines from the top-25, the Orediggers made certain of a different outcome Friday, outshooting the Mountain Lions 19-to-10 and 8-to-3 on frame.
UCCS compiled a 9-to-4 advantage on corner opportunities, including 8-to-2 in the first half, yet it was Mines that capitalized on the set pieces as the Orediggers scored on free kicks in the 37th and 59th minutes off the foot of senior Alex Nass.
Nass delivered his first assist of the game from about 45 yards out to the front of the goal where classmate Zach Page-Belknap, with his back towards the net, headed the ball home for the game's opening score and his fourth this season.
The score stood until the 50:16 mark when junior Tesho Akindele carried a long pass ahead from sophomore Jace Dinkel into the box and beat the keeper with a low, 15-yard shot along the ground to the left frame.
Just over three minutes later in the 54th minute, Akindele worked a textbook give-and-go with classmate Baski Baker, and upon receiving a pass into the 18-yard box, Akindele finished off the sequence with a goal to the right side from 14 yards out.
Shortly thereafter with 58:18 reading on the clock, the tandem of Akindele and Nass, the RMAC's leaders in goals and assists, hooked up as Nass directed a free kick from just in front of midfield to inside the penalty box where Akindele added his 19th of the season with a soft header from point blank range.
Nass currently sits atop the conference with 10 assists and is only three back of the program's career mark of 32, held by Jared Peacock (2000-03), while Akindele, already the all-time scoring leader at Mines with 54 goals, matched his single-season school record of 19 set in 2010 with his third hat trick this year and ninth of his career.
With three saves in goal, senior keeper Manville Strand recorded his fifth shutout and third in five games to pull within two of tying Kevin Galloway's (2003-06) career record of 24 and run his season record to 11-4-2.
The Orediggers wrap up the regular season with their annual Senior Day at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday against visiting Colorado Mesa (8-5-4, 6-4-3 RMAC). Prior to kick-off, Mines will recognize its four senior student-athletes – Sean Helster, Page-Belknap, Nass and Strand.