Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC left back Joan Cervos carries the ball back to midfield after scoring late in the first half of Saturday's match against Real Monarchs at Rio Tinto Stadium. Photo credit: Real Monarchs

Uvaldo Luna, Joan Cervos and Abdul Rwatubyaye made up for individual mistakes that led to Real Monarchs goals to help Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC earn a 3-3 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium despite being down a man and two goals late in regulation.

“It’s only natural as we’re coming back that players are going to have momentary lapses, and you could see that,” Switchbacks coach Alan Koch told The Gazette from Utah. “Those are three players that I highlighted that had tough moments, but the beautiful thing is those three players all had fantastic moments today, too.”

The errors helped the hosts to a 3-1 lead Saturday before Colorado Springs midfielder Andre Lewis was sent off after receiving his second yellow card in the 73rd minute. The hosts maintained that lead until the final minutes when Austin Dewing hustled after a ball, re-won possession with the Monarchs keeper off his line and laid the ball off for Jordan Burt, who put the ball into an open goal to pull the Switchbacks within a goal in the 89th minute.

“You could see when we scored the second goal, it wasn’t ‘Oh, this is nice’ This was ‘No, we’re going to go score the third goal,’” Koch recalled. “That’s a major, major characteristic to have as a team, and I’m very proud the guys showed that today.”

Then in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Rwatubyaye, who gifted the Monarchs a set piece from a wide area that was eventually headed in by Taylor Peay for the hosts’ 3-1 lead, got his head to Luke Ferreira’s corner kick.

“I put it in a good spot, and he ran into the right space, so it was just the training that we put in,” Ferreira said.

Real Monarchs opened the scoring a half-hour in when Andrew Brody won the ball after a heavy touch from Luna and set up Kyle Coffee. Brody would make it 2-0 in the 40th minute when he carried the ball to the edge of the area, with Cervos allowing plenty of space, and curled a left-footed shot beyond the outstretched Sean Melvin. Cervos and Luna made amends just before the end of the first half when Luna’s shot was spilled for a rebound and Cervos did just enough to get it across.

“It was a poor decision made from Uvaldo. He should’ve just cleared the ball, but you look at Uvaldo in our first goal, and he’s the one that created it by breaking through and taking a shot,” Koch said.

“We have several players like that today. You look at Cervos, his 1-v-1 defending on their goal was very poor, but then as a left back he gets all the way forward and scores a goal for us. And then Abdul was another great example. He gave away a stupid free kick on their third goal and then he goes and scores a heroic goal for us right at the end.”

The wild finish helped the Switchbacks enter Sunday in the thick of Group C with the top two teams earning playoff berths. After three of 16 regular-season matches, El Paso leads the group with five points, while New Mexico United and Colorado Springs have four. The Monarchs, last year’s league champion, earned their only point Saturday.

“Today, we made it a little harder for the Monarchs, but made it a little easier for ourselves. At the end of the day, we’re only one point away from first,” Ferreira said before looking to next Sunday’s non-group home match against Austin Bold.

“This weekend, we’re coming for another three points.”

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