RMAC: Cowgirls host Regis

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Highlands is No. 4 seed in conference women’s soccer tournament

By Dave Kavanaugh

The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference women’s soccer tournament is coming to Las Vegas.

New Mexico Highlands University will host a first-round match with Regis at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Perkins Stadium.

The Cowgirls (9-6-3 overall) earned a No. 4 seed in the tournament by finishing 7-6-1 in RMAC play. Regis is 8-7-2 and 6-6-2, respectively, getting into the tourney as the No. 5 seed.

Wednesday’s winner has the unenviable task of a trip to play at No. 1 seed Colorado School of Mines on Friday afternoon. Mines is 17-0-1 overall and a perfect 14-0 in the RMAC.

On the other half of the bracket, No. 3 Fort Lewis (14-4, 10-4) hosts No. 6 Colorado-Colorado Springs (9-7-1, 6-7-1) on Wednesday. That winner moves on to face No. 2 Metro State (12-3-3, 10-3-1) on Friday evening.

Colorado School of Mines will host Friday’s semifinals as well as the championship match, set for noon Sunday in Golden, Colo.

Highlands lost its regular-season finale 3-0 to Regis on Sunday in Denver, but the Cowgirls had already clinched the No. 4 seed and first-round hosting rights after shutting out UCCS 2-0 on Friday in Colorado Springs.

Sunday’s contest — the only meeting to date this season between NMHU and Regis — was close in terms of shots and shots on goal, but the Rangers were the more effective team. Kiki Arnold took a Rachel McMahon header in the 14th minute and put the ball in the Cowgirls’ net for a 1-0 edge. The score stayed intact until a blooper of an own goal rolled in just a couple minutes into the second half, doubling the lead to 2-0. C.C. Rinehart capped the scoring with a penalty kick in the 64th minute.

Anyssa Dagnino accounted for two of Highlands’ five shots on goal. The Rangers had six.

Going into Wednesday’s RMAC tournament opener, Dagnino, Andrea Duke and Crystal Schuder are the Cowgirls’ offensive leaders. Dagnino has seven goals and two assists with 23 shots on goal. Duke has seven goals, three assists and 28 shots on goal. And Schuder has four goals, eight assists and 24 shots on goal. Nicole Millar and Brooke D’Onofrio have two goals apiece.

Nikita Rivera, who has started most of Highlands’ matches at goalkeeper, owns a goals-against average of .073 and a save percentage of .847; her record is 7-3-2 with four shutouts.

NMHU’s loss at Regis snapped a three-game win streak that included an upset of Metro State, then ranked 10th in NCAA Division II. Two of the team’s six losses came against foes ranked in the top 10 nationally — Colorado Mines and Fort Lewis.

Highlands is 5-2-2 at home this fall.

Regis is 0-4 against nationally ranked opponents, although the Rangers lost to Mines, Metro and Fort Lewis by one goal margins and took FLC to overtime. They’ve won four of their last five and haven’t lost since Oct. 16, a 3-1 defeat vs. then-No. 5 nationally ranked Mines.

Rinehart leads Regis with six goals and two assists. McMahon has five goals and two assists. Sid Otto and Sade Akindele have four goals each; Otto’s 34 shots on goal are a team best.

Ellen Augsburger and Kat Crump share time at goalkeeper for Regis.