Midwestern State got to a quick start before succumbing to fatigue and elevation to settle for a 2-2 draw with Colorado Mesa in its season opener Thursday afternoon at Dirks Field.
"Fitness and altitude got us a little bit but we'll learn," first-year MSU coach Damian Clarke said. "The kids fought hard and played well for probably 60 minutes. I assumed the altitude would bite us a little bit, but we got a result and that's what you want."
Junior defender Alexandria Edwards won a ball deep in the MSU half and served a long pass to sophomore forward Nicole Coetzer, who beat CMU goalkeeper Sarah Schnetzler to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
"We talked about trying to be direct if we got an opportunity and Nicole hit a great shot to finish it. It was a good goal," Clarke said.
The Mavericks struck for the momentary equalizer in the 32nd minute when Sarah Pope bounced a shot off of the left post and in.
Midwestern rustled the lead back thanks to the work of a pair of reserves.
Junior Stephanie Bonilla beat a defender to the end line and drilled a shot off of the woodwork, allowing sophomore Alyssa Parkhill to hustle to the ball as the Mustangs regained the lead in the 36th minute of play.
Colorado Mesa controlled much of the second half working for an 11-5 edge in shots while also producing five corner kick opportunities to none for MSU. But the Mavericks found it difficult to work past MSU redshirt freshman goalkeeper Courtney Burnette, who was credited with 10 saves in her first collegiate start.
"Courtney did a good job of making it hard to score for them, but they produced some good opportunities once they found their feet," Clarke said. "Mesa is an improved team. It ended up being a lack of organization with us being a little bit tired."
Darion Weigert's blast from 20 yards out in the 80th minute gave the Mavericks the equalizer, but the Mustangs were able to survive a series of five CMU shots in the first overtime as MSU was unable to muster a single shot in extra time.