Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
In recent years, Dirks Field has been paradise for the Fort Lewis College men’s soccer team, a place where losses and ties for the home side were few and far between.
This year, it’s slowly becoming a house of horrors for the Skyhawks.
FLC played CSU-Pueblo to a 0-0 tie Friday at Dirks Field, again struggling to muster the kind of opportunities to finish that carried it to a national championship a season ago.
“We definitely had chances, but unfortunately the hardest thing to do in any sport is put the ball in the net or the hoop, and that’s what we’re struggling with right now,” FLC head coach Oige Kennedy said.
The draw dropped FLC’s home record in 2012 to 1-2-2, with the lone victory a 1-0 triumph over Adams State on Sept. 21. Since that victory, the Skyhawks (7-4-2, 4-3-2 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) are 0-2-1 on their home pitch.
“I don’t even know. I think a lot of us don’t even know the answer to that. It’s kind of a mystery,” midfielder Daniel Wilson said of FLC’s recent home struggles.
The Skyhawks had a couple of chances in the first half to get on the board, but both were turned away by metal. Johannes Sander’s cross to Trevor Gibbons resulted in a shot off the crossbar in the 14th minute, and Artur Piperkov’s odd-angle free kick later in the half curled off the same crossbar. FLC couldn’t capitalize on a 12-1 edge in shots in the half.
The Skyhawks mustered few chances in the second half as the ThunderWolves (4-7-2, 2-5-2 RMAC) began to control a few stretches of possession as they pushed for an upset. While CSU-Pueblo managed just three shots in the half, it held the Skyhawks to just three, as well, and the Skyhawks were unable to capitalize on five corner kicks in the frame.
“It becomes pretty difficult, but you’ve got to put that out of your mind and keep going forward. ... It’s a bit frustrating, but you’ve got to keep moving forward when things happen like that,” Wilson said of the shots off the crossbar.
FLC had one final chance to net the game-winner, with Piperkov taking a free kick with 5 seconds left in the second overtime from much the same spot as the one that hit the crossbar. But his cross attempt didn’t find a head as time expired.
Ryan Schaul made five saves for his fifth shutout of the season, with a couple of tough saves keeping the Skyhawks in the match. His diving save in overtime on Chad Smith’s chance was the best of the bunch.
FLC played without striker Kosta Kordistos for undisclosed reasons. Kordistos, the Most Outstanding Player of last year’s final four, was in street clothes.
Also missing was central midfielder Alberto Capdepon, who Kennedy said would miss “a couple weeks” with an injury suffered Sunday against Adams State. Wilson started in his place.
The draw may have been the final nail in the coffin concerning FLC’s NCAA Tournament hopes. The South Central Region only has three available spots, and Regis, Incarnate Word, West Texas A&M and Midwestern State currently are ranked in the top 25 and ahead of FLC in the regional rankings.
“It hurts us quite a bit. Obviously, ties will kill you,” Kennedy said.