Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
The Fort Lewis College women’s soccer team seemed to be on its way to a big 2-1 win over Regis with 56 seconds to play.
Then, bedlam ensued.
Three goals, 27 seconds. A seemingly unbelievable sequence.
Two of those goals went to Regis, including one on the kickoff from midfield, and the game remained even through two overtimes as the Rangers grabbed the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title with a 3-3 draw with the Skyhawks on Sunday at Dirks Field.
It’s a sequence that almost had to be seen to be believed, that words may not do justice. Sade Akindele tied the game with 56 seconds left by outmuscling two FLC defenders and firing inside the far post.
In the blink of an eye, FLC’s Elena Benavides responded with a shot from the left side of the penalty area to put the Skyhawks back on top with 38 seconds to go.
Then, the most unbelievable of the bunch. Regis’ Marissa Davis shot from midfield off the kickoff, and the ball caught a piece of the crossbar with 28 seconds left and barely scooted over the line according to the assistant referee, despite Amanda Raso’s efforts – an unlucky result for an FLC team that was strong for most of the afternoon.
“I think our kids put in a hell of an effort. To be honest, they’re a heck of a team,” FLC head coach Damian Clarke said. “Is luck on their side? It’s not. Not right now.”
Earning only a single point, no matter how lucky or unlucky, will send FLC on the road Wednesday to open the RMAC Tournament. The Skyhawks will visit UC-Colorado Springs for a 4:30 p.m. quarterfinal. FLC also is in a precarious spot as the No. 6 team in the South Central Region, which draws exactly six bids to the NCAA Tournament.
The reason FLC (12-3-3, 8-3-3 RMAC) had the lead to begin with was another Sam Weiss-Emma Cannis connection. Weiss sprung a counterattack in the 83rd minute that lead to a breakout and slipped a deft pass to Cannis, who fired past the charging Ellen Augsburger to push FLC in front.
Regis scored the game’s first goal when Akindele, the younger sister of Colorado Mines striker Tesho Akindele, headed Davis’ cross into the net just 19 seconds into the half.
FLC wasted little time answering, however, when a loose ball off a Benavides corner was tapped by Emily Walters to defender Madyson Wellcome, who buried her first career goal just 58 seconds later.
“It was my goal this season. I was like, ‘I will score by the end of the season,’” Wellcome said. “I walked up to Damian (Sunday), and I was like, ‘I’m scoring (Sunday).’”
The first half was a tense defensive battle, almost as though the teams took awhile to settle into the game. Wellcome said the way the back four defended all weekend bodes well for their confidence heading into a matchup with UCCS.
“Our coaching staff kept saying the defense was playing well, so I think it’s finally clicking where we’re getting the ball, we’re swinging it, we’re looking up, we’re confident in what we do,” she said.
And despite the result, Clarke was far from displeased with his side’s performance. They’ll need to bottle the positives and pick up a couple of wins if they want to lock up yet another NCAA Tournament berth.
“I think they dominated for long periods of time. ... Probably deserved a little bit more than they got out of it,” Clarke said.