Tarah Patterson imagined a much better day.
Her one goal would have to do, and it was good enough to lead No. 2 Colorado-Colorado Springs to a 1-0 win over sixth-seeded West Texas A&M in an NCAA Division 2 second-round women’s soccer playoff match at Mountain Lion Stadium.
“Actually, I had been visualizing this game for the past week,” said Patterson, a Sand Creek High School graduate. “I was hoping to get at least two goals. That was my goal. I’m just happy I got one to put us up.”
The Mountain Lions (16-4), playing in their first playoff game in program history, next will meet Colorado School of Mines (17-3-1) on Friday in San Diego. That third-round winner will play host school UC-San Diego or Western Washington on Nov. 19 for a spot in the national semifinals.
UCCS beat Mines twice during the season.
Patterson broke a scoreless tie with 1:11 in the first half. She took a pass from Ella Fischer that deflected off a West Texas defender, saw she had plenty of space, turned upfield and blasted a 25-yard, left-footed shot that beat Lady Buffaloes (11-7-5) junior goalkeeper Courtney Dippel to the right post.
“I think their outside back wasn’t tucked in all the way,” Patterson said. “When I ran through, I didn’t check my shoulder to see. The ball bounced off the girl trying to run with me, and it rolled right to my left foot. Ella played a great ball to me. I just hit it and wished for the best.”
UCCS made the goal stand up and had plenty of chances to add to the lead, firing 11 shots and putting four on frame in the second half.
Only Dippel kept it a one-goal game.
“At halftime, we talked about being a 0-0 game and getting a second goal to kill any momentum they might have,” Mountain Lions first-year coach Sian Hudson said. “That didn’t’ happen. We had five or six brilliant chances to put in a second goal but didn’t take advantage. Their goalkeeper came up with fantastic saves.”
The Mountain Lions, who won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament title for the first time Nov. 5 with a 1-0 win over Colorado State-Pueblo in the title game, knew they had extended their season but didn’t know their opponent until Friday, when the West Texas A&M upset Angelo State, ranked eighth in the country.
UCCS beat the Lady Buffs, 2-1 on Sept. 11 at Mountain Lion Stadium, but was thrown off early by a new alignment, forced with the suspension of forwards Khaline Jacob and Shanelle Arjoon, who received red cards following Friday’s 1-0 upset.
Arjoon had that game’s lone goal, and the Lady Buffs sorely missed her and Jacob as West Texas A&M managed only three shots that required relatively routine saves by Mountain Lions goalkeeper Taylor Proctor.
“I have a team that is able to adapt to different situations and play to different formations,” Hudson said. “We saw a formation we didn’t expect in a 3-5-2. We made adjustments at halftime, and our players were able to take information and quickly adapt. In the second half, I thought we were pretty dominant.”