A rocket from Piperkov gives FLC a unique W

No. 17 side plays just well enough to win

When a team’s having trouble getting connected in the attacking third, a well-placed rocket from distance always is a welcome sight.

Artur Piperkov provided the game’s lone goal with a blast from 35 yards out, and the No. 17 Fort Lewis College men’s soccer team hung on for a 1-0 victory over Adams State on Friday at Dirks Field.

Piperkov’s tally came in the 10th minute. His blast came from the right wing and perfectly nestled into the upper left-hand corner of the net to beat Grizzlies’ goalkeeper Mike Miller and put the Skyhawks on top.

“I did what the coaches told me. They told me to carry the ball up front and see how it works in the final third. ... At first I wanted to play outside, but I saw I had time, and I had space,” Piperkov said.

At the time, it seemed like the type of goal that perhaps would smash the glass ceiling and allow the Skyhawks (5-1-1, 2-0-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) to start racking up tallies at a clip to which they’re more accustomed.

But it wasn’t to be.

The Skyhawks did muster five shots on goal out of 14 total salvos at the Adams State net, but they couldn’t quite find the scoring touch they’re looking for.

“I think we were guilty (Friday) of not setting our standard high enough. ... We really didn’t play a style of soccer that we should be playing,” FLC head coach Oige Kennedy said.

FLC typically isn’t known as a side that scores a great deal of goals from deep during play.

The Skyhawks usually are more of a sharp passing team that also has an advantage in set pieces and corners.

However, a couple of goals from outside of the penalty area possibly could open up more opportunities for FLC going forward.

“Our game is not striking from outside. You need goals like that for the season the same as you need goals from corners and free kicks, but our game is to build up chances,” Piperkov said.

The return to the lineup of Kosta Kordistos helped a bit, and FLC did have an easier time setting up the attack against the Grizzlies than they did a quality Colorado Mines squad last Sunday, getting several opportunities on balls toward the goal that were just out of reach of their attackers.

Unfortunately for FLC, however, leading scorer Yannis Becker missed the game after taking a soft red card (two yellow cards) last Sunday, while Aaron Kloer and Daniel Wilson missed with injuries and Zac Lawrence with a family matter.

Several away games, which cause the travel-for-practice tradeoff, and a lack of lineup continuity haven’t helped matters.

“You know, it would be nice to get some fluency in the group. ... The other part of it is that we’ve been away so long we haven’t got as much of a chance to practice with this group,” Kennedy said.

FLC again was solid defensively, thanks in part to a returning Stephen Engeln in the central defense, standing up to Adams State’s second-half push for an equalizer.

The Skyhawks allowed just four total shots to Adams State (1-4-0, 1-1-0 RMAC), and Ryan Schaul made one save in goal to preserve his clean sheet.

“Another clean sheet for Ryan Schaul. Kept them at bay. Maybe wasn’t as busy as he can be. ... We’re not conceding goals, but right now we need to just do a better job of scoring them,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy also was pleased with the contributions from midfielder Dawson Emrich and forward Trevor Gibbons off the bench, both of whom were adept at winning balls and helping pin the Grizzlies deep for stretches.

FLC will return to its home pitch against UC-Colorado Springs for another men’s-women’s RMAC doubleheader Sunday.