Don’t sweat the final score.
Yes, the top-ranked University of Colorado-Colorado Springs women’s soccer team came away with a 1-0 triumph Sunday over Westminster in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference semifinals at Mountain Lion Stadium. But for all intents and purposes, the Mountain Lions controlled the game.
Especially in the second half, when UCCS (19-0) allowed just one shot — and it wasn’t even on goal.
In Friday’s quarterfinal game against CSU-Pueblo, UCCS won 5-0.
“I think in any kind of semifinal matchup or high-pressure game like that,” Mountain Lions coach Sian Hudson said, “sometimes it will come down to one goal.”
That said, the Mountain Lions continue a journey that they hope ends with the Division II national championship. So far, so good for the only undefeated team in both of the NCAA’s top two divisions.
It took 56 minutes for the Mountain Lions to score. For some, this was a concern. The last time the teams played, UCCS easily beat Westminster 3-0.
Nonetheless, freshman Kaitlin Hinkle came through with the heroics — thanks to an assist by junior Shanade Hopcroft. It was a sequence that was started by sophomore forward Savannah Mills.
“The first half was a rough start for us, but it was a huge buildup,” Hinkle said. “We came out with kind of a fire at our feet, trying to score, and it was a huge buildup. Savannah got down the end line and it came across and I saw the opportunity to put it in the back of the net. It was probably now or never, so I just put my feet on it.”
The first half was scoreless, but UCCS had an 8-3 shot advantage over Westminster (11-3-4). It was a different story in the final 45 minutes, evident by the fact that the Mountain Lions took seven more shots — including four on goal — compared to the Griffins’ lone attempt.
Goalkeeper Mollee Swift had another impressive game, finishing with two saves.
The Mountain Lions host Colorado School of Mines at 1 p.m. Saturday in the RMAC title game. The Mines Orediggers beat MSU Denver 2-0 in the other semifinal Sunday.
A UCCS win would not only earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament but also a chance to host a first-round game. This season, the Mountain Lions earned their first RMAC regular-season title.
“We want to be winners, obviously,” Hopcroft said. “We’d love to win the NCAA but that’s a long way ahead of us.
“First and foremost, our goal right now is to win the (RMAC) championship.”