The top-ranked Fort Lewis College men’s soccer team nearly did something in its opener it did just once all of last season – suffer defeat.
Key word: nearly.
Birthday boy Aaron Kloer knocked in a free kick from Yannis Becker to equalize, then Becker put home the winner in the 85th minute to give the Skyhawks a 2-1 victory over No. 10 Incarnate Word on Friday in Golden.
The game was a rematch of last season’s NCAA second-round game in Durango, won 1-0 by FLC en route to the program’s third national title. In this one, the Cardinals grabbed the lead just after halftime when an FLC defender was called for holding on a corner kick, and Incarnate Word buried the penalty kick for a 1-0 lead.
“We kind of made a young freshman mistake giving away a penalty, and they punished us for it,” FLC head coach Oige Kennedy said.
Kloer put home Becker’s free kick to draw the defending champions even in the 63rd minute. Then it was the freshman midfielder’s turn to play hero. Kosta Kordistos’ corner kick found Becker in the penalty area, and the German put it home to give the Skyhawks a dramatic win.
“I was really happy with the way the guys bounced back. ... Great fight, great spirit to get back into the game,” Kennedy said.
The two-time national champion coach said playing a top-10 opponent early in the year helped the Skyhawks realize areas they need to clean up as well as prepare them for the rigors of the rest of the regular-season schedule.
“The tougher competition we play against, the better the team’s going to be,” he said. “We’re definitely a team that’s going to get better as the season goes on.”
FLC (1-0-0) will play St. Edward’s at 11 a.m. Sunday in Golden.