It was a good season for the Mountain Division, with three of five teams in the division finishing with a winning record this year.
Of the five, FC Tucson had the best season overall, winning the division crown with a very strong 9-2-3 record, in no small part thanks to a 12-goal effort from Moshe Perez. Unfortunately, their playoff run was cut short in the Western Conference Semifinals, but the season can be counted as nothing other than a success overall.
FC Boulder U23 followed closely behind FC Tucson, finishing second in the division, and the Colorado Rapids U23, BYU Cougars, and Albuquerque Sol FC followed close behind.
Here's a look at the Mountain Division's Season in Review.
Photo by Albuquerque Sol FC
Mountain Division Finish: 5th
MVP: Jack Clancy - 2 goals, 1 assist
Every team goes through up and down periods, and unfortunately for Albuquerque Sol FC, 2017 happened to be a down period. The team finished with last in the Mountain Division with a 2-10-2 record, and accordingly found themselves struggling for significant stretches of the season. The team earned its first win on June 15, their sixth match of the year, as they defeated the Colorado Rapids U23. They defeated the Rapids U23 again the next match just two days later and it seemed as though things might be turning around. However, the team fell back into struggles, earning just one point through their last seven matches, a 2-2 draw against FC Tucson, and lost their last five straight. There were some bright spots though, such as Sam Gleadle, who played 13 of 14 matches and knocked in six goals for Sol FC, and Jack Clancy, who knocked in two goals and had one assist as well. Helping him out was the team leader in assists, Patrick Pacheco, who had three helpers and one goal of his own. Things were a bit shakier in the back, as primary goalkeeper Tyler Pavlet struggled with a 2.44 GAA despite a significant
Photo by BYU Men's Soccer
Record: 4-6-4, -2 GD
Mountain Division Finish: 4th
MVP: Connor Fordham - 5 goals, 3 assists
It was a less-than-stellar season for the BYU Cougars, who operated almost perfectly reversed compared to the three teams above them in the division. After opening the season with five consecutive matches unbeaten and leaping out front, BYU slowed down over the last seven games of the season and it cost them, going winless in their last six with four consecutive losses to close the year. Ultimately, the team ended up with an unsatisfactory 4-6-4 record and sat deep in fourth place in the Mountain Division. It certainly wasn’t all negatives for the Cougars, however, particularly on the defensive end. Primary goalkeeper Brenden Ottman had a season to remember, as he notched 49 total saves on the season and maintained an impressive 1.30 GAA over his 10 appearances. On the offensive end, scoring production was split evenly, with eight goal-scorers tallying five or fewer and none above that number. Leading the charge was goals and assists leader Connor Fordham with five and three respectively. He was followed closely by Christian Tobler, who tallied up four goals and two assists of his own in one fewer match than Fordham.
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/Colorado Rapids
Record: 5-4-5, +3 GD
Mountain Division Finish: 3rd
MVP: Josh Goss - 4 goals, 3 assists
The Colorado Rapids U23 were the third team in contention in the Mountain Division, but finished a full 10 points behind FC Tucson in the end, despite getting the better of the division winners with a win and draw against them head-to-head. The Rapids U23 ended the season on a five-match unbeaten run that was a significant improvement over their first half of the year, a growing trend in this division. While the playoffs didn’t come to fruition, the Rapids U23 still ended with a positive record of 5-4-5 and a plus goal differential on the year. They were buoyed by a trio of producers on the attacking end, with Jaret Townsend and Josh Goss both suppling four goals and three assists apiece, with Andre Bava Shinyashiki supplying four goals and two assists as well. The goalkeepers were impressive as well, particularly Connor Gavigan, who recorded a big 39 saves and maintained a 1.52 GAA over eight matches. Ford Parker and Jefferson Caldwell impressed as well in their six combined appearances.
Photo by FC Boulder PDL
Record: 8-4-2, 0 GD
Mountain Division Finish: 2nd
MVP: Ryosuke Kinoshita - 10 goals, 2 assists
A few early-season losses ended up costing FC Boulder U23 dearly, as they finished just four points back of division-winners FC Tucson. The early part of the season was certainly a struggle, as the team sported a 3-4-2 record after nine matches before closing out their season with a stunning five-game winning streak. A big part of the reason for their second-place finish, however, was that two of those four losses came to FC Tucson, giving the latter a distinct advantage. Still, though the playoffs remained out of reach, it was a successful season in many ways for Boulder U23. It was a good year in particular for leading goal-scorer Ryosuke Kinoshita, who powered in 10 goals and added two assists to his tally as well, with Leigh Veidman next on that list with six goals scored. Also of note was assist-leader Joseph Sanchez, who recorded five helpers, but was unable to find the back of the net himself. All of that was supplemented by a trio of active goalkeepers in Theodore Hooker, Shazz Heale and Jorge Becerra, who tallied 37 saves and a decent 1.71 GAA.
Photo by FC Tucson
Record: 9-2-3, +17 GD
Mountain Division Finish: 1st
Playoffs: Lost in Western Conference Semifinals
MVP: Moshe Perez - 12 goals, 1 assist
FC Tucson didn’t start the season particularly well, with two losses in their first five matches and a 2-2-1 record, but their bounce-back after that rough period was remarkable. Their second loss, to the Colorado Rapids U23 on May 25, was their last of the season as they went unbeaten in their next nine matches with a 7-0-2 record. They rode that rebound straight to the top of the Mountain Division, as their 9-2-3 record left them four points clear of second-place FC Boulder U23. While several players impressed, and continue to impress in college, none did more so than Moshe Perez, who’s 12 goals led the team by a wide margin. Afonso Pinhero also had a season to remember, as his five assists led the team and were supplemented by three goals of his own. All of this was supplemented by two primary goalkeepers in Luis Barraza and Lucas Vallilo, who split time relatively equally and racked up a combined 48 saves and 0.91 GAA. While they’d have surely hoped for a bit more playoff success, being eliminated in their first match with the Fresno Fuego in the Western Conference semifinals, the season was still largely a positive one for FC Tucson.