Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Chalk up another victory for the new boss.
Fort Lewis College is hoping the year’s end result is the same as it was for most of the members of the old boss.
A strong improvement after halftime pushed the No. 1 Fort Lewis men’s soccer team over the FLC alumni 5-1 on Saturday in the annual alumni game at Dirks Field.
The Skyhawks kicked off their campaign to repeat as national champions by taking on the still-very-capable remnants of FLC’s soccer past, including a handful of members of last year’s title team who since have graduated.
The game struggled for a bit to settle until the 2012 squad broke through in the 13th minute. Austin Derksen, a redshirt freshman who was dynamic on the left wing for most of the match, made a nice run down the left sideline before setting up Kosta Kordistos. Kordistos’ shot was snuffed by former FLC goalkeeper Devin Zimmerman, but Derksen slotted home the rebound to give the Skyhawks a 1-0 lead.
“It’s been a long time, I feel ... hopefully there’s more to come,” Derksen said of his goal.
The alumni, however, wouldn’t go quietly. A long through ball found its way onto the speedy feet of Cole Sweetser, who sprinted past the defense, chipped over goalkeeper Ryan Schaul and then tapped the ball home to square the game at one in the 17th minute.
“We just treat it as trying to come in and be better than a (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) team and give them the same test as a warmup. ... We have a team that’s very capable of competing every year,” alumnus David Barden said.
Jordan Alexander broke the deadlock in the 37th minute when his shot from the right of the penalty area ticked off Zimmerman and trickled over the line despite Luc Cisna’s best effort.
Kordistos found the back of the net in the 56th minute, taking a goal kick that ricocheted off a pair of players, trapping it down and firing a hard shot through former teammate Ryan Wirth for a 3-1 lead. Kordistos and Wirth later would collide on a 50-50 ball, but both left under their own power and appeared OK.
Casey Dean capped the scoring with a pair of goals in the 65th and 66th minutes. His first was a beautiful shot from about 20 yards out off the bounce that tucked under the crossbar, and his second came off a nice low cross from Derksen, which he tapped home for the final 5-1 margin.
Despite taking the lead into halftime, FLC head coach Oige Kennedy said he was displeased with the lack of pace and lack of possession in the first half, something FLC hopes to clean up before opening the regular season Friday against 10th-ranked Incarnate Word. Playing against alumni with national titles to their name didn’t help matters.
“Definitely urgency ... we just really weren’t playing at the pace we normally play at. ... We’ve got to really push it to teams, especially at home,” Kennedy said.
Pace and possession improved noticeably after the break thanks to some capable passing both on defense and in the midfield. Kennedy was pleased with the output of the midfielders he rotated in, including Derksen, Sameth Al-Basith, Alberto Capdepon, Daniel Wilson, Aaron Kloer, Yannis Becker and Dawson Emrich.
“Just more enthusiasm and energy in there (late) really made a difference,” Kennedy said.
Defensively, the Skyhawks went with a combination of Johannes Sander and fellow German Maik Brandt in the center with a cast of Artur Piperkov, Kyle Woodson and Grant Duke on the outside for most of the game.
Barden, a forward who scored the national title-clinching goal in 2009, said the new-look D acquitted itself well, as did the rest of the Skyhawks.
“Good to see some of the newer boys kind of fit into the system,” Barden said.