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.