GOLDEN - The NSCAA No. 19 Colorado School of Mines men's soccer team's first NCAA postseason berth since 2010 was spoiled Saturday in Golden as third-seed and No. 13 Incarnate Word overcame a wintry weather mix of snow, rain and sleet to top the Orediggers 4-2 in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Division II Championship.
The RMAC Tournament champions finished the season at 14-5-2, while UIW (14-3-1), with its first win over Mines in the last four meetings, advanced to the third round where they will meet first-seed and No. 3 Regis (17-1-1).
Despite a noticeably slower pace of play due to the less than ideal conditions, particularly in the first half, the teams combined for four goals in the first 30:03 of the frame.
The Cardinals' Alex de la Garza provided the initial score in the 5th minute, taking a corner pass from Vincent Bailey and lofting a shot from outside the box just under the crossbar.
Mines answered 7:20 later as junior Baski Baker dropped off a pass to his right to senior Zach Page-Belknap in the right wing who then found junior Tesho Akindele with a low cross to the center of the box where Akindele put away the straight-on look and his single-season program record 22nd score.
UIW went out in front again at the 22:07 mark as Leon Taylor headed a long throw-in from Robin Nicholls that ricocheted off the far post before sneaking over the line.
The Orediggers countered once more less than eight minutes later in the 31st as Page-Belknap and Akindele hooked up again, this time with Akindele feeding Page-Belknap with a low cross from the left wing to the right corner of the box where Page-Belknap lined a 15-yard strike to the far netting for his fifth of the season.
Mines finished the half with an 8-to-5 advantage on shots, yet in the pivotal second stanza, the Cardinals reversed the roles, outshooting the Orediggers 11-to-6 with nine of the shots on target, including the go-ahead score and eventual game-winner in the 69th minute.
Following an unlucky foul at the right edge of the 18-yard box, Josh Ferona headed in the deciding, point-blank score off the short free kick by Vincent Bailey, and under four minutes later, the Cardinals tacked on an insurance tally as Alex de le Garza put away his second of the game from eight yards deep in the short right wing to the far post for the final margin.
Senior Manville Strand swiped eight shots in his final match between the pipes for the Orediggers. Also playing in their final collegiate contest for the Silver-and-Blue were Page-Belknap, midfielder Alex Nass and defender Sean Helster.
The senior quartet finished their career at Mines with a combined record of 57-17-9 (0.741) in four seasons and is the only class in program history to play in three NCAA tournaments (2009, 2010, 2012), steering the Orediggers to their first NCAA win in 2010, a 5-1 first round victory over Regis.