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Fort Lewis College men’s soccer upsets No. 18 Colorado School of Mines

Skyhawks hand Orediggers first conference loss since 2017

The Colorado School of Mines men’s soccer team thought it had won Friday’s match against Fort Lewis College. Skyhawks’ attacker Ryan Lee thought the Orediggers had taken a crucial three points in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference standings. Even FLC head coach David Oberholtzer thought Mines had won it on one or two occasions. But Skyhawks redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Peter Byrne and the defensive back line had other ideas.

The Skyhawks’ defense cleared three balls bound for the back of the net off of the goal line, and Byrne made two remarkable saves in the final 10 minutes of a 1-1 game, and Fort Lewis forced overtime. In the extra period, FLC midfielder Loic Jean-Baptiste delivered the dramatics once again, as his game-winning goal 29 seconds into overtime gave Fort Lewis (8-4-3, 6-4-1 RMAC) a 2-1 upset win over No. 18 Mines at Dirks Field in Durango.

“This is why we play the game,” said FLC defender AJ Haskell, who cleared a ball off of the goal line in the 88th minute. “This is why we play, for games like this.”

The Orediggers (10-3-2, 8-1-2 RMAC) had six shots in the final 10 minutes, but the Skyhawks back line was determined to not let in the winner.

“They did a great job,” Oberholtzer said. “I thought Mines had it won a couple of times, and Peter came out of nowhere to make his typical, phenomenal saves. Haskell cleared one off of the line, as well, and it’s a gritty performance ... To beat Mines in that dramatic fashion in overtime makes it even more enjoyable.”

Gritty is the way the Skyhawks’ defense has been defined all season, Haskell said.

“A big word we’ve been focusing on the last two weeks is ‘grit,’” Haskell said. “That’s putting in 100% effort into everything we’re doing, whether it’s defending or attacking. We knew we had to keep the ball out of the back of the net, and that’s what we did.”

The Orediggers opened the scoring in the 31st minute when George Marchant was on the receiving end of a flick pass that came off of a long throw-in. He buried the half-volley to put Mines up 1-0.

The Skyhawks continued to create chances after Mines found the opener, as Fort Lewis’ wingers kept up the tempo and FLC won 50-50 battles in the midfield.

FLC equalized in the 41st minute. Left winger Max Fuentes Carrera pinged a cross to Brantley Bice, who was on the edge of the 18-yard box. He took a touch to control the cross and fired a well-struck shot into the top left corner for his third goal of the season that tied the match at 1-1.

In the second half, the pace picked up as both teams searched for the go-ahead goal. Bice continued to be a threat, as he had two shots that went high and wide. Mines’ best chance came in the 63rd minute, when Michael Sprauer had a chance to nod home a goal at the back post, but his header went over the crossbar.

In the overtime, freshman Matt Baldridge found Jean-Baptiste, who fired a screamer that hit the inside of the left post and went in. It was his team-high seventh goal of the season, his third game-winner and second game-winner inside the opening minute of overtime.

Mines head coach Greg Mulholland thought his side did enough for the three points but said they will have to regroup after their first loss in conference since 2017.

“Part of the message is, ‘enjoy the suck’” Mulholland said. “This sucks. We know that no one likes it, but that’s the target that Colorado School of Mines has on their back. Everybody’s going to gun for you when you’re at the top of the table and national rankings come out. It just makes the target bigger. We have to shift gears because Colorado Mesa is up next, and we have to show our resiliency. I believe this team has it, and they’ve shown it before.”

The Skyhawks will face South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (3-10-1, 2-8-1 RMAC) at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Dirks Field.

Women’s soccer

The youthful Fort Lewis College women’s soccer team showed plenty of promise in Friday’s 2-0 win over Western Colorado, as two freshmen found the score sheet, while a third was able to maintain a shutout win in goal.

“We sort of knew that this was a game where our backs were against the wall,” said FLC head coach Damian Clarke. “Western was coming off of two wins, and with everyone fighting for that eighth seed, it’s a great way to start our battle to get into the RMACs. We probably have to win all three of our three next games, so today was a huge win.”

FLC was able to break its four-game goalless drought with two goals in the span of 16 minutes. It was the first time the Skyhawks scored since Oct. 6.

The Skyhaws (4-6-3, 3-4-3 RMAC) broke the deadlock in the 44th minute when Diana Sifuentes found freshman Madyson Barela at the top of the 18-yard box, and Barela booted it in the left corner to make it 1-0.

Freshman goalkpeeper Kate Dunbabin made two key saves in the first half, including a one-on-one situation in which she denied Andrea Grillo in the 16th minute. She kept her second clean sheet in as many matches.

In the second half, Fort Lewis was on the front foot again, and in the 60th minute, freshman Ashley Strader made a brilliant solo run down the left flank, cut in and floated a shot past Western’s goalkeeper.

Western Colorado (2-11-1, 2-7-1 RMAC) managed only three shots in the match. With the win, Fort Lewis moved up to ninth in the RMAC table with 12 points and sits three points out of the eighth spot.

The Skyhawks will host Colorado Mesa (8-5-1, 5-4-1 RMAC) at noon Sunday.


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