When forward Khadira Debesette of West Texas A&M ripped a shot in the 86th minute Sunday afternoon at Dirks Field, she and everybody else thought it was a goal.
The shot, which came from about 35 yards out, pinged off of the underside of the crossbar and hit the right post and then the left post, coming mere inches from crossing the goal line. However, the referee ruled otherwise, saying play-on. It was the bewilderment of the non-goal that pushed the Lady Buffs to continue to find a winner, which they did two minutes later in a 1-0 victory at Fort Lewis College.
The Lady Buffs (3-1) kept up the pressure, and it paid off in the 88th minute when Marlene Van Mourik crossed in a ball in search of her teammates and found Mackenzie Taylor, who was unmarked near the back post and flicked it past Skyhawks goalkeeper Brittney Blomso to give West Texas A&M the 1-0 win.
“I think (West Texas A&M) did a good job to push a few players higher and become more direct and stretch us out with pace,” said Skyhawks head coach Damian Clarke. “But, in goal, it was a loss of concentration. We lose our marks after we cleared the initial ball, and it gets put back in. We lose our marks on the backside, and that’s the result.”
The match, which was delayed for an hour because of lightning in the area, was as tight as possible after the delay, with both teams nearly finishing a half-dozen chances. Fort Lewis (1-2-1) had two goals waived off because of offsides, including one in the 50th minute of the match that would have given the Skyhawks the lead.
“That’s this game, you know what I mean,” Clarke said. “It comes down to the last minute every match this weekend, so really the conditioning piece of this game is what changes your competency. If you’re not quite fit in the last minute, you might make a mistake psychologically that might cost you the game. I think that’s the story for us. We just weren’t as fit as we needed to be to maintain concentration.”
Fort Lewis outshot West Texas A&M 8-7 in the second half, and Payton Balduini had the Skyhawks’ other golden opportunity when she attempted to chip the Lady Buffs’ goalkeeper Courtney Dippel, but Dippel was able to cause a corner kick after making a remarkable diving save.
Both teams were aggressive in the final 10 minutes, as Fort Lewis put two shots on goal that were blocked or went over the crossbar before the Lady Buffs scored.
Clarke said that, even after going 1-1 this past weekend, he and the Skyhawks still have work to do finish a full 90 minutes.
“I think our kids have grown a lot, and of course we’re upset that we didn’t win,” Clarke said. “But at the same time, we’re obviously good enough to get it into the last minute and give ourselves a chance.”
The Skyhawks will take on Black Hills State in the first Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference game of the season at 1 p.m., Friday at Dirks Field.