Yannis Becker couldn’t find a way around Mitchell Kilmer with his feet.
So he used his head to reach a solution.
The Fort Lewis College junior midfielder flicked a Zac Lawrence corner into the back of the net in the 76th minute Sunday at Dirks Field to give the Skyhawks a 2-1 win over St. Mary’s.
Becker had put two shots on frame before that from his left boot, but Kilmer, St. Mary’s redshirt sophomore keeper denied him both times.
On Becker’s goal, Lawrence bent the ball in from the left side of the goal, and Becker headed it off the bottom of the crossbar, where it bounced off Kilmer’s back and across the goal line.
“It was a great delivery, you know?,” Becker said. “I like to get it on the first post, and that’s where he put it.”
The goal came 1 minute, 42 seconds after St. Mary’s tied the game at 1.
Victor Luna took a pass from Luis Sanchez on the right side of the box and sliced a shot into the left corner.
“I think the team responded really well, battled back and tied it,” St. Mary’s head coach Michael Bonelli said. “Fort Lewis made a great play on a set piece. We’ve got to do a better job defending them, but it was also a great goal.”
FLC (2-2) initially pulled ahead in the 59th minute on freshman Raul Pescador’s first career goal.
Becker slipped him the ball in the box, and Pescador beat Kilmer to the left side of the goal with a low shot.
“It was a difficult game. Finally we could make a very much good plays here, and finally we scored,” said Pescador, a native of Salamanca, Spain.
Both FLC goals came during a stretch where the Skyhawks started to pick up their tempo and open up the game more.
Playing a team from sea level, FLC followed the same plan as its 2-0 win over West Texas A&M on Friday and waited for the altitude to tire the Rattlers out before stepping on the gas pedal.
“Teams from Texas come here and tire along the game, just in the altitude,” Becker said. “We know we just gotta keep pressing, keep the tempo high, and at one point they’re gonna get slow, and we can punish them for this.”
The goal and assist were both the first of the season for Becker, who was an All-American last season and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year.
“I’m delighted for Yannis because he’s probably the most talented player in the country, and he’s putting a lot of weight on his shoulders,” said FLC head coach Oige Kennedy. “I’m sure he’s got relief in the goal and the assist (Sunday).”
FLC ended its nonconference schedule on a two-game winning streak and now will head into RMAC play.
The Skyhawks open against Regis at 4 p.m. Friday in Denver before continuing north to Rapid City, South Dakota, to face South Dakota School of Mines for the first time ever.
“I think we’ve seen a lot of sides to us. We’ve seen the good sides and the not so good sides. That’s always beneficial (in nonconference play),” Kennedy said. “You’ve got to know your weaknesses to get better. Going to Texas (to start the season) exposed a few things for us, and I think we’ve shown improvement from game to game. Now, it’s just about stepping it up and being ready to play in the hardest conference in the country.”