|Posted October 28, 2011|
Epic comeback put Pack within inches of playoff spot
Kinsey takes over school goals record and helps Pack score three unanswered goals.
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (GoThunderWolves.com - Oct. 28, 2011) - At halftime of Friday's showdown with Colorado Mesa, a game that practically had "win and you're in" playoff implications with one game remaining on the RMAC schedule, the ThunderWolves' hopes seemed dashed in the first half after falling down 2-0.
But a raucous second-half comeback that featured two goals by Robert Kinsey (Sr., Denver,
Colo.), the second of which gave him sole possession of the CSU-Pueblo career goals record with 36 in his career, lifted the ThunderWolves to an unlikely come-from-behind 3-2 win.
The momentum shift began near the close of the second half, when in an attempt to undo a sluggish start - Pack coach Roy Stanley called it the worst 20 minutes of the season - a wholesale "line change" subsitution was made to bring new life to the squad, and it paid immediate dividends.
A shot by Ryan Hunter (Jr., Goodyear, Ariz.) hit the post on a great scoring opportunity, and the ThunderWolves immediately showed renewed fire, out-shooting Mesa 4-0 in the final 15 minutes of the first half and allowing the team to enter halftime with its head held high.
"Those guys kept the ball moving, and that ball of the post really changed things," Pack coach Roy Stanley said. "Their keeper had to make to big saves late in the half and it really turned the momentum in our advantage."
However, the empty "moral victories" of the first half turned to real ones as CSU-Pueblo created opportunities from the get-go. Seven of the first eight shots of the half were taken by the ThunderWolves, including the Pack's first goal, which broke a scoreless streak of over 300 minutes. In the 62nd minute, Kinsey played a ball in to Trason Merritt (So., Anchorage, Alaska), who in turn netted the ball to the right of Mesa keeper Micah Conrads, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
"Mesa misplayed the ball trying to clear it, and Trason took care of business," Stanley said. "The ball landed clearly at our feet and Trason calmly put it away."
Nine minutes later, Alex Marin (Fr., Campeche, Mexico) delivered a pretty free kick to the front of the goal, which Kinsey headed in for the record-tying and game-tying goal.
"It was the most dangerous situation for Mesa to be in having the 2-0 lead," Stanley said. "We got one goal, and we were just one away with all the momentum. When we got the second goal, we were very confident we could keep it going."
The Pack rode the momentum, hitting again just two minutes later when Kinsey netted quite possibly the biggest goal of his collegiate career, the ultimate game-winner putting the Pack ahead 3-2.
"It was probably the biggest comeback any of these guys have experienced here, even seniors like Kinsey and Jacob Blum (Sr., Peoria, Ariz.)," Stanley said. "It's one of the biggest comebacks I remember being a part of. It as an exciting game to be a part of."
The Pack's win, which gives them a season split with Colorado Mesa, puts the ThunderWolves very close to clinching a playoff spot, but they most certainly are not home free.
The ThunderWolves draw Metro State on the road Sunday while Colorado Mesa will host a nationally-ranked Regis squad. Either a Mesa win combined with a CSU-Pueblo loss or a Mesa win by two or more goals combined with a CSU-Pueblo tie, would keep the ThunderWolves out of the RMAC Playoffs.