The Fort Lewis College soccer programs have had a flare for the dramatic this weekend as the women’s team won its game against Eastern New Mexico with 18 seconds left Friday afternoon, but Ty Lang and the men’s team found a way to one-up them Saturday afternoon at Dirks Field, as Lang scored the game-winning goal with just six seconds remaining to beat Eastern New Mexico 2-1.
With 30 seconds remaining, Eastern New Mexico conceded a free kick deep in its own half of the field. After the ball was delivered in from the free kick, it was initially cleared away but Skyhawks defender Oz Levi crossed it in and it found the foot of senior midfielder Nicolas Perez who tapped it over to Lang and he hit it off the crossbar and it bounced on the underside and went in.
Lang did not know how much time was left on the clock, he just did what has been ingrained in him since he first began playing the sport: Playing until the final whistle blew.
“At first, I thought it got cleared and when I saw it got played back in, I had no clue how much time was left,” Lang said. “I just tried to stay composed and placed it on goal and luckily, I did.”
The Skyhawks (2-0-1) dominated large stretches of the first half but Eastern New Mexico (2-2) got on the board first against the run of play when Raith Houle scored off a rebound, putting the Greyhounds up 1-0 at halftime. In the 63rd minute, senior midfielder Steen Shober flicked the ball over a Greyhound defender, got past him and was quickly dragged down inside of the 18-yard box. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and fellow senior midfielder Nicolas Perez converted, scoring his first goal of the season and leveling the score at one apiece.
After the Skyhawks tied the game up, the Greyhounds lost their cool, receiving four yellow cards and a red card in the final 25 minutes of the match. After Easter New Mexico went down a man, the Skyhawks felt they could take advantage of and head coach Dave Oberholtzer wanted to exploit the extra man.
“The whole game was still a good performance, I just thought we were falling short in a couple of areas in the first half,” said Oberholtzer. “We made a couple of adjustments and I think that the guys really put it together and put a really strong second half together. And it just felt like we were knocking on the door, just waiting for the chance to come and they finally did.”
The Skyhawks were desperately seeking a game-winner and got an opportunity eerily similar to that of the women’s game on Friday. Oberholtzer told his team to settle down after the free kick was conceded – the exact same message as women’s head coach Damian Clarke gave on Friday.
“30 seconds is a long time and when you see it on the clock, you feel like you’ve got to hurry and rush, and then you start to rush things and it doesn’t go as well as you like it to,” Oberholtzer said. “(On that last play), I was hoping they kind of re-focused and take their time and they did. They took their time, were all tuned in and were able to put one way.”
It was not the first game-winner of the season as the Skyhawks won the first game of the season in overtime in Texas after going down 1-0. Lang thought that his teammates have been resilient when they have been cornered this season and every time they have found a way out.
“We sometimes get off to slow starts but we keep pushing through,” Lang said. “(Oberholtzer)’s great at getting us to play our game and keep pushing – no matter if it’s in Texas, or here with six seconds left – you just have to keep going, and this team has the ability to do that.”
Fort Lewis will take on long-time rival Colorado-Mesa at 3:30 p.m. at Dirks Field, Friday Sept. 14.