ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH, COLORADO: Seattle University begins the second half of the conference season with a weekend road trip to Colorado. First on the docket Friday is Air Force, the current leader in the MPSF Mountain Division after defeating nationally-ranked New Mexico twice in the span of a week. The Redhawks move on to face Denver Sunday, an important match for both teams to qualify for the conference postseason tournament.
LAST WEEKEND: Seattle University returned to Championship Field to face the same two teams it had seen on the road the previous weekend. Friday, Seattle U struck first against UNLV on a goal by Renato Bandeira in the 14th minute. However, the momentum changed when Jose Merlo received a red card early in the second half for taking down Salvador Bernal on a breakaway. Bernal would eventually score the game-tying goal, and the Rebels would score again seven minutes later for a 2-1 victory over the Redhawks. Sunday, Brady Ballew scored 35 seconds into the match to give the Redhawks a 1-0 lead over CSU Bakersfield. That advantage would only last until the 11th minute, when the combination of Lucas Dall'Orso and Kory Kindle struck to tie the match. Seven minutes later, Gyasi Zardes scored the go-ahead goal, and he would score three more times to help CSU Bakersfield pull away for a 6-2 victory. Miguel Gonzalez scored with 3:21 left in the first half to pull Seattle U to within one at 3-2, but the Roadrunners dominated the second half.
NCAA RANKINGS: Redhawk goalie Jake Feener is fourth in the country in saves per game, averaging 6.38 saves per match. As a team, Seattle University is third in Division I in saves per game with 6.58.
SCOUTING AIR FORCE: The Falcons enter Friday's match with a 6-6-2 overall record, including a 3-1-1 MPSF record, currently in first place in the Mountain Division. Air Force has defeated nationally ranked New Mexico twice this season. Kevin Durr leads a balanced offense with two goals and one assist for five total points. Garrett Getschow, Abinadi Samayoa, and Caleb Downey each have two goals apiece as well. Zane Dydasco, Eric Tise, and Jake Jones lead the Falcons with two assists each. Matt Underwood has played every second in net for Air Force this season, posting a 1.09 goals against average and a .775 save percentage.
SEATTLE U VS. AIR FORCE: This will be the fourth meeting between Seattle University and the U.S. Air Force Academy, with the Falcons holding a 2-1 series edge. All three previous matches have ended with the final score 2-1. On Nov. 1, 2009, Seattle U defeated Air Force at the Starfire Soccer Complex in Tukwila when Ian Walsh scored with 1:54 remaining in the second overtime period. Air Force returned to the Pacific Northwest Oct. 29, 2010, and earned a 2-1 victory at Championship Field. Last season in Colorado Springs, Colo., the match once again went into overtime, with Zane Dydasco scoring 35 seconds into the second overtime period to give the Falcons a 2-1 victory.
SCOUTING DENVER: The Pioneers enter the weekend with a 6-4-3 overall record, but just a 1-3-1 record in conference play for fourth place in the Mountain Division. After a five-match winning streak entering league action, Denver has struggled offensively outside of a 6-0 victory over Houston Baptist last Friday. Josh Wren leads the Pioneer offense with six goals and two assists for 14 total points. Zach Bolden has contributed four goals and five assists for 13 points, while Brian Hoyt has also scored four goals so far this season. Oliver Brown has started 12 of the 13 matches in net for Denver, posting a 1.16 goals against average and a .700 save percentage.
SEATTLE U VS. DENVER: Seattle University and the University of Denver are meeting for the fifth time in history, with Denver winning the previous four meetings. The two teams first met Oct. 30, 1994, in Seattle, with Denver earning a 3-1 victory. The Pioneers have shut out the Redhawks in each of the previous three years: 4-0 in Denver Nov. 5, 2009; 2-0 in Seattle Oct. 31, 2010; and 1-0 in Denver Oct. 30, 2011. Zach Bolden scored Denver's goal four-and-a-half minutes into the second half in last season's meeting, and Oliver Brown made three saves to notch the shutout.