By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
Eastern New Mexico University survived one final late run by Colorado State-Pueblo on Sunday and came away with its second shutout of the weekend — albeit a scoreless tie.
Thunderwolves midfielder Ryan Creager raced down the middle and fired on goal in the final minute of the second overtime, but ENMU goalkeeper Leif Craddock reached up and deflected it over the crossbar to thwart the final scoring bid of a long day and leave both teams with records of 1-2-1.
Neither coach was all that happy with the result, but neither was totally disappointed.
“I thought we did some good things,” Pueblo coach Roy Stanley said. “I thought we deserved to win, but we didn’t finish (plays).”
The Greyhounds, meantime, were able to build on Friday’s 9-0 rout of Colorado Christian and also came away with a better result than last year, when they lost to the Thunderwolves 4-1 in Pueblo.
“It shows how much we’ve improved,” ENMU coach Carlos Elizondo said. “These guys beat us by three goals last year.
“I didn’t expect to do that well against Colorado Christian, but that game did give our players a little bit of confidence.”
The Hounds, who open Southwest Soccer Conference play by hosting rival West Texas A&M at 4 p.m. today, weren’t able to muster many opportunities against the Thunderwolves. Junior forward Jonathan Holman had perhaps the best opportunity, taking a feed in front of the net in the second half but shooting wide on a header.
Meantime, Craddock fended off several challenges from Pueblo, finishing with 11 saves. Three times, he reached up and tipped the ball over the goal to keep the Thunderwolves off the board.
“I thought we played well and created some good chances,” Stanley said. “I’m happy with the way we’re passing the ball and getting everyone into the attack.”
The Hounds have shown improvement on defense this season, Elizondo noted, but except for Friday’s rout are having a tough time scoring.
“We’ve worked very hard on defense,” he said. “We expect to do well defensively. But we’re still struggling to possess the ball.”
They also struggled a bit with injuries during the game. Sophomore defender Donnell Jackson went out early with a knee injury, while in the second half sophomore defender Adam Diehl (leg) and freshman midfielder Rhen Salas (cramps) also had to come to the sideline.
Elizondo said he’s hopeful all three will be available for today’s matchup against WT.