No. 1 FLC stunned in the desert by No. 19

Grand Canyon defeats Skyhawks soccer 3-2 on the Antelopes’ home pitch

Playing the No. 19 team in the nation on its home pitch, no matter the hour, isn’t the greatest recipe for success.

Even if you’re the No. 1 team in the country.

The top-ranked Fort Lewis College men’s soccer team found that out the hard way Friday, falling to No. 19 Grand Canyon 3-2 in Phoenix in a game that started at 9 p.m. Mountain time.

“It’s a tough environment to come into. ... We just didn’t perform for the full 90 minutes,” FLC head coach Oige Kennedy said.

Skyhawks’ co-captain Casey Dean scored the game’s first goal, and FLC appeared poised to take the advantage into halftime.

The ’Lopes (3-0-0) had other plans.

Grand Canyon scored a backbreaker with 50 seconds left in the half to equalize, then rode that momentum to a 3-1 lead.

The ’Lopes last defeated a No. 1 ranked team in the country when they beat defending national champion Cal State-Dominguez Hills 2-1 in 2009.

“There is a reason why Fort Lewis is ranked No. 1 in the country,” Grand Canyon head coach Petar Draksin said in a news release. “I am so proud of our players for the win (Friday night). I thought we played very, very well. I can’t say enough for our guys. It was unbelievable what they demonstrated (Friday night).”

Kennedy said the Skyhawks were the better side over the final 25 minutes, getting a goal from Yannis Becker to cut the lead in half, but the two-goal hole they’d dug themselves proved to be too much to overcome.

“It’s definitely a game we lost instead of the other team winning it,” Kennedy said.

The loss provided FLC with an eye-opener after the defending Division II champs lost just once a season ago en route to the program’s third national title. Kennedy said he expects to see a more aggressive unit Monday when the Skyhawks (2-1-0) face California Baptist in Gilbert, Ariz.

“I think we learned (Friday night) that we can’t play with fear,” Kennedy said.

heraldsports@durangoherald.com