|Posted November 1, 2011|
ThunderWolves' season ends with valiant effort at Metro
Pack owns Metro in second half but comes up short.
DENVER, Colo. (GoThunderWolves.com - Nov. 1, 2011) - Eager to reclaim some respect after a 4-0 loss to Metro State to close the regular season just two days earlier, CSU-Pueblo battled until the buzzer Tuesday in a first round showdown with 21st-ranked Metro State in the RMAC Playoffs, falling by a slim 2-1 margin.
With the loss, the ThunderWolves finish their 2011 season 5-11-3.
CSU-Pueblo was admittedly lackluster in the first half, allowing two goals and trailing 2-0 at halftime.
But instead of rolling over and barrelling toward a redux of its 4-0 loss on Sunday on the same field, the ThunderWolves played their hearts out in the final 45 minutes.
In the game's 60th minute, Ryan Hunter (Jr., Goodyear, Ariz.) played a ball off a deflection from the keeper to net a Pack goal and trim the deficit 2-1.
Hunter's goal was part of an aggressive second half by the ThunderWolves that was played chiefly in their offensive end. With momentum squarely in the Pack's hand, Metro State relentlessly slow-played toss-ins and free kicks to slow the game down, an approach that worked as time simply ran out on the Pack's season.
"I really believe we were the best 11 on the field in the second half and was the best we had played as a unit all year," Pack coach Roy Stanley said. "We defended well and controlled the ball well against a very good team. I'm super proud of the way our guys responded."
A bulk of the team returns for next season, though the losses from this year's team will be huge and touch to replace. Two four-year members of the squad, Ricky Itagaki (Sr., Aiea, Hawaii) and Sean Fitzgerald (Sr., Denver, Colo.) depart, as does one of the top keepers in school history, Jacob Blum (Sr., Peoria, Ariz.) and the program's career goals and points leader, Robert Kinsey (Sr., Denver, Colo.).
Stanley said he was very proud of how Itagaki went out Tuesday.
"I believe Ricky played his best game of his career today," Stanley said. "He and the rest of the seniors will be a tough group to replace."