A brief lead against the 13th-ranked team in the nation wouldn’t hold up for the Fort Lewis College women’s soccer team Thursday.
The Skyhawks hosted Colorado School of Mines in a meeting of unbeaten teams. FLC would score first in the 23rd minute on a penalty kick goal by Corinne Sanderson, but Mines would tie the match before halftime, as Emma Peterson finished a shot assisted by Michelle Easley in the 38th minute.
Quickly out of halftime, Mines (5-0-2, 3-0-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) would get the game-winning goal from AK Ford off a rebound in the 49th minute to send the visiting Orediggers to a 2-1 win at Dirks Field on the FLC campus in Durango.
“That game, for our team to show up, I think Mines was in a bit of shock for a couple minutes,” FLC head coach Damian Clarke said. “At the same time, they’re a team that’s used to being in shock against high-level teams and find a way out of it. This was another one of those where, if you let them off the hook, you’re not going to win. We learned a lot, and they learned a lot about us, so the next time we see them will be interesting if we get ourselves to the conference tournament.”
Sanderson’s goal was her third of the season for the Skyhawks (2-1-2, 1-1-0 RMAC). Charlie Kaiser worked hard with the ball on her foot to get in front of goal and would be fouled by Mines goalkeeper Sierra Roth. FLC turned to Sanderson to take the penalty kick.
“Huge shout out to Charlie. She definitely fought her way to get into that box and get a foul for us, and I was lucky enough to put it away,” Sanderson said. “It means everything to have the confidence of the girls behind me to take that shot, and I knew I wouldn’t let them down.”
Sanderson admitted it was tough to give up the tying goal before halftime after working hard to hold an early lead. But she said the team remained confident.
“Super proud of the team. A great team effort, and we really improved today,” she said. “Today, we proved we can hang with some of the best teams in the nation.”
Katie Dunbabin made five saves in goal for FLC, while Roth finished with six saves. FLC had with 12 shots, one more than Mines, and both teams had seven shots on goal in a game where not much separated the two sides.
“A great first save, and I think just us not being tuned in at the beginning. Those first five minutes of every half and last five minutes are critical,” Clarke said of Mines’ winning goal.
FLC had a corner kick late in the match with a chance to draw even. Julia Johnson played in the corner and Aubrey Swindle looked to have scored, but the potential goal was called off by the referees because of a foul on the Skyhawks.
“I thought it was in. I couldn’t tell. A foul happened, and it got called back,” Clarke said. “We are physical. I wouldn’t put it past one of our kids to kick somebody.”
FLC has now scored 10 goals through five games this season, a positive step for Clarke’s squad. He hopes to see the strong offensive play continue going into a road match at 1 p.m. Saturday at CSU-Pueblo (3-1-1, 1-0-1 RMAC).
“Last year, we were playing to get a point. This year, we’re playing to beat every team we play,” Clarke said. “Being able to change the mentality of how the players want to feel, we want to feel powerful and aggressive. It’s a lot more fun to feel that way than being sitting in and hoping for counter attacks. We don’t want to be passive. We want to be feared a bit.”