Divisional Races Heat Up With Three To Play

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Oct. 22, 2012

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NO. 14 NEW MEXICO (12-3-0 Overall, 5-2-0 MPSF) Devon Sandoval led a program record-breaking night against UNLV, recording three goals and two assists within eleven team goals. His eight points last Friday tied for the third-highest single game total in MPSF history. The Lobos also blanked Pacific Division leader CSU Bakersfield, 2-0. A tie against Houston Baptist on Nov. 3, or one win within the final three, guarantees UNM in the MPSF Tournament.

AIR FORCE (8-6-2 Overall, 5-1-1 MPSF) stayed on top of the Mountain Division with a pair of home wins over Seattle U, 1-0, and San Jose State, 3-1. Matt Underwood posted his conference-leading sixth shutout and Kevin Durr delivered a 21st-minute game-winner last Friday. Conor Henry dished two second-half assists vs. the Spartans. The Falcons are on the road for the final three, where just one tie at any point seals an MPSF Playoff bid.

DENVER (8-4-3 Overall, 3-3-1 MPSF) Defender Blake Shannon scored both game-winners and added an assist for five points, leading the Pioneers to a weekend sweep of San Jose State (4-0) and Seattle (1-0). He tallied in the third minute vs. the Spartans and in the game's lone goal, 73rd-minute vs. the Redhawks. While many scenarios put the Pioneers in the MPSF Tournament, two wins and a tie in the final three games automatically guarantees a bid.

CSU BAKERSFIELD (7-4-4 Overall, 4-3-0 MPSF) Gyasi Zardes chalked up a second consecutive hat trick this past Friday, as he was directly involved in each of the four goals scored in the 4-1 win at Houston Baptist. The Hermann Trophy candidate struck three times in the first 24 minutes of the contest, before adding a second-half assist. Amongst several paths, one more win coupled with HBU not winning out, puts CSUB in postseason play.

HOUSTON BAPTIST (4-7-2 Overall, 2-3-2 MPSF) Christian Cruz scored twice in a 4-1 win over UNLV on Sunday. His first goal was a header off a cross just 1:46 into the game, before his second strike came three minutes later with the Huskies playing a man down. All four HBU goals came in the first 22 minutes of the contest. Amongst multiple scenarios, HBU punches an MPSF Playoff spot if it wins its final three on the road, and UNLV does not (or a loss by either SJSU or Denver).

SAN JOSE STATE (6-7-1 Overall, 3-3-1 MPSF) dropped a pair in Colorado this past week, 4-0 at Denver and 3-1 at Air Force. Kyler McLaughlin scored in the 87th-minute at Air Force, his first of the year. The Spartans are at home for the remainder of the regular season, hosting New Mexico (Oct. 26), Houston Baptist (Oct. 28), and Seattle U (Nov. 3). Winning two and tying one secures a postseason bid, among several paths to Albuquerque.

UNLV (5-11-1 Overall, 3-4-0 MPSF) dropped a pair on the road at New Mexico and Houston Baptist. Rodrigo Fuentes assisted on a bicycle goal by Sal Bernal in the 28th-minute in Houston. The Rebels are at home for their final three regular season games, hosting Air Force (Oct. 26), Denver (Oct. 28), and CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 2). If they win out, the Rebels are guaranteed a postseason berth.

SEATTLE U (2-11-1 Overall, 0-6-1 MPSF) fell at Denver and Air Force in a pair of tight 1-0 games last weeks. Jake Feener had eight saves against the Pioneers and Shane Haworth had six vs. the Falcons. The Redhawks return home for Houston Baptist Friday and New Mexico Sunday, before the regular season finale at San Jose State on Nov. 3.

BLAKE SHANNON MPSF PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Denver senior defender Blake Shannon (Houston, TX/Kingwood HS) scored both game-winners and added an assist for five points, leading the Pioneers to a weekend sweep of San Jose State and Seattle. The senior had a goal and an assist against the Spartans, putting 2-of-4 shots on goal and playing 85 minutes. Shannon scored, while putting 2-of-3 shots on goal and playing the full 90 minutes, in a 1-0 win over the Redhawks. Shannon, who had two career goals coming into 2012, is second on the Pioneers with five goals this season and anchors a defense that has limited opponents to just 4.0 shots on goal and 11.9 shots total per game. Also Nominated: Christian Cruz (HBU); Devon Sandoval (UNM); Matt Underwood (AF); Gyasi Zardes (CSUB)...