Three different Switchbacks scored on Saturday afternoon as the Colorado Springs Switchbacks ran away 3-1 victors over the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs Mountain Lions at Weidner Field.
Undefeated in the 2017 preseason, the Switchbacks were led to victory over the spirited Mountain Lions by an efficient offensive unit that scored two first half goals.
Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh started Saturday’s match with Dan Jackson in goal, and a back four of Josh Suggs, Josh Phillips, Pascal Eboussi and Jordan Burt. Right back Burt pressed the Switchbacks’ attack forward at every opportunity and had two dangerous crosses blocked within the opening 10 minutes.
The Switchbacks’ forward three caused the UCCS backline numerous problems as Shane Malcolm, Kevaughn Frater and Masta Kacher all interchanged with ease. Malcolm’s speed was particularly apparent as he brilliantly linked play with Kacher just before the half hour, with Frater leading the attacking diamond.
New Zealander Chris James put the Switchbacks on the score sheet after a great piece of individual skill from Shane Malcolm. Malcolm, after beating the UCCS defense with a combination of pace and pure skill, crossed low and hard to the near post where James made a brave sliding finish.
UCCS leveled just three minutes later as a corner kick was deftly finished to the far post.
The stroke of halftime also signaled the Switchbacks’ second goal. Kevaughn Frater, just moments after seeing his stinging shot fly inches wide, made a great 40 yard run only to be unceremoniously brought down inside the box for a penalty kick. Chris James thundered home the PK to the UCCS goalkeeper’s left in what was essentially the final kick of an entertaining first half.
“Some guys on this team have to step up and that showed early,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh after the match. “Last season we had a played-in squad when we started the preseason. This year it’s going to take some time because we have so many new players. Everyone brings their own game and we need time and games together so the players can learn about each other.”
Trittschuh rang the changes to start the second half, with Switchbacks veterans Aaron King and Luke Vercollone among those to enter the game.
Switchbacks fans were relieved to see Vercollone return to action after shaking off the effects of a very strong tackle just five minutes into the second ‘45. Vercollone was quick to return to return to his offensive best after the ill-timed challenge as he led the right side of the Switchbacks’ attacking trio.
Jamaican wingback Sean McFarlane, who had replaced Josh Suggs at halftime, pushed forward throughout the second half, while fellow substitute Aaron King was unlucky to see an effort go just over the bar.
Soon-to-be fan favorite Jack Jones was the Switchback that would eventually put the match out of the reach of a valiant UCCS Mountain Lions squad. Connor Bevans found Jones who beautifully angled his right-footed shot into the bottom of the far corner on 84 minutes. The goal was just reward for the Switchbacks’ second half attacking intent, and despite two further half-chances as the match ticked towards its conclusion, the game ended 3-1.
“Every game we get to know each other a little bit better,” said right back Jordan Burt. “Our legs are finally getting there in terms of regular season fitness. Hopefully we start to click a little more soon and we continue to get ready and get better with each game. I know by the time the Tulsa game comes around we’ll be ready.”
“There’s a little bit of that Colorado Springs soccer rivalry there,” joked starting goalkeeper Dan Jackson after the match. “We’ve played them before and it’s always fun to get these preseason games out of the way because we’re learning a lot. At times we looked really good and at times we were able to implement some things we’ve been working on in training which is one of the goals of these games. If we can cut out these silly errors and find our grit and will to win then we’ll be fine moving forward into the regular season.”
“We are really excited about this team but it’s going to take time,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “Without playing USL-caliber teams in preseason it’s hard to gauge exactly where we are right now – we’ll have to see in Tulsa [Saturday, March 25]. These are all really good players, some of them who have international experience. I think they are better players than we had before – it’s just about getting everyone on the same page now as we move forward.”
The Switchbacks’ next match will take place in Golden, Colorado against the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers on Wednesday afternoon at 4pm.
The 2017 preseason will finish on March 18th at Weidner Field against Harpo’s F.C. in a match the Switchbacks’ coaching staff is already anticipating. “The game in Mines will be about getting guys who didn’t play much today some time,” said Head Coach Trittschuh. “For Harpo’s we’ll settle on a strong team that will go to Tulsa and compete for starting positions. It’s now time for guys to step up if they want to be part of the squad that travels to Tulsa and we’ll get a good idea about that against Harpo’s.”