The Fort Lewis College men’s soccer team picked up a draw against Colorado Mesa University - the tenth-ranked team in the nation - Saturday, but the Skyhawks wanted and nearly had so much more.
With a 1-0 lead, Fort Lewis was on the wrong end of some controversial calls late in the second half. The Skyhawks did their best to maintain control when CMU was awarded a penalty kick in the 79th minute and the referee sent off two FLC players in the 82nd and 90th minutes.
“I think we had a chance, but decisions weren’t going our way. We were surprised by the calls,” said FLC senior forward Salifu Jatta.
FLC took a 1-0 lead in the 75th minute. Nicolas Perez fought off a CMU defender to get possession and was taken down in the box. The Skyhawks were awarded a penalty kick that Jatta put in the back of the net.
“I was really tired. I was trying to focus,” Jatta said of the PK. “By the time I took a step forward the keeper was already moving, so it was easy for me to put it away.”
The goal put the Skyhawks (2-2-4, 2-0-2 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) on the brink of an upset, but almost immediately after the goal everything started going against them.
FLC was called for a handball in the box, a call the Skyhawks vehemently disagreed with, and the Mavericks’ Moshe Perez put the penalty past keeper Peter Byrne to draw the Mavericks (6-1-1, 2-1-1) even at 1-1.
Less than two minutes after the equalizer, Fort Lewis’ Ty Lang was shown his second yellow card of the match and was sent off. Then, 8 minutes, 30 seconds later, Landon Gibson was shown his second yellow card, apparently for arguing a no call when an FLC player was shoved to the ground on a scoring opportunity.
Fort Lewis head coach David Oberholtzer wasn’t clear on the reasoning behind the two ejections, saying Lang and Gibson were shown red cards, “For something. We’re still trying to figure out those.”
Down to nine men for the two overtime periods, Fort Lewis fought off a constant attack from the Mavericks and got a few clutch saves from Byrne. The Skyhawks even created a couple counter attacks.
“Unfortunately we went down two men, but the battle and the fight and the grit from our guys to play two men down for about 30 minutes was fantastic,” Oberholtzer said. “And we had two good chances to win the game in the overtime periods. I was extremely proud and pleased with the heart they showed today. That was a big step in the right direction and it shows a lot of growth in our group.”
Jatta echoed Oberholtzer’s thoughts on the team’s heart, saying the Skyhawks have never played down a man, much less two, and all things considered the draw is something they can be proud of.
“It’s a great point for us, and for them too, because any one of us could have won the game,” Jatta said. “They had a better chance than us in the two overtimes but we almost won it too. That says a lot about our team.”
The Skyhawks will be back on the road Friday, traveling to Alamosa to take on Adams State University (5-3-0, 2-2-0).
Women’s soccerMetro State University 1, Fort Lewis College 0Fort Lewis College’s women’s soccer team is still searching for its first win at home this season after the Skyhawks suffered a 1-0 loss to Metro State University-Denver on Saturday afternoon at Dirks Field.
Fort Lewis (1-5-1, 1-3-0 RMAC) out shot Metro 13-8 in the match, but only two of the Skyhawks’ shots were on goal compared to seven for the Roadrunners (4-4-0, 3-1-0).
Reigna Banks provided the lone goal of the match, taking a pass from Elise Boisnard and putting it past FLC keeper Ali Miller in the 25th minute.
FLC started the second half with a fierce attack, getting off a handful of shots in the first 15 minutes, but none got past Metro keeper Erica Torres.
Fort Lewis will host the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (4-3-0, 2-1-0) at 3 p.m. Friday at Dirks Field.