The offense of the Fort Lewis College men’s soccer team has found its groove in a 5-2 win against Metro State University-Denver on Friday afternoon at Dirks Field. It was the Skyhawks’ second consecutive Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference victory.
The Skyhawks (4-0-2, 2-0-1 in RMAC) offense challenged the Roadrunners defense from the start and scored two goals in the opening 10 minutes of the match. The first goal came in the fifth minute when Marshall Metzger headed home his second goal of the season after Max Fuentes delivered a perfect ball off of a corner kick. Metzger jumped up, headed the ball downward, and it took one bounce and went into the top right corner of the net to give the Skyhawks a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Ty Lang was on the right flank and delivered in a ball which Metro State’s goalkeeper James Tanner misjudged and attempted to punch, but he missed the ball and it fell directly to Hazut’s head, who had a wide-open finish to give Fort Lewis an early 2-0 lead.
Head coach David Oberholtzer wanted to get his team more comfortable with holding a sizable lead. That was the case on Friday afternoon.
“We’ve had the same conversation before,” Oberholtzer said. “We’ve kept a lot of games tighter than they needed to be ... I thought our guys played fantastic and made it a lot more comfortable than it has been.”
The Roadrunners pulled one back against the run of play, when Bryan Amouyal found the back of the net after he received a pass from Jaime Gutierrez. Amouyal beat Fort Lewis goalkeeper Victory Salcido on the left side to cut the FLC lead to 2-1.
Ryan Lee restored order with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Landon Gibson feathered a through ball pass to Lee, who was able to chase it down, take a touch and calmly beat Tanner, as he finished in the bottom right corner of the net. The 3-1 Skyhawks lead would be the way the first half would end.
Lee credited the first half goals to the formation and shape of the Roadrunners.
“We’re a team that loves to get in behind (the defense) and use our athleticism,” Lee said. “They were letting us. They kept a high line and they liked to try to catch us offside, and a lot of times, they did, and credit to them. But, the times that we weren’t offside, I liked our chances when we ran straight at their keeper.”
In the second half, FLC continued to attack. In the 54th minute, FLC found a fourth goal after an initial ball in the box was partially cleared but fell right to the chest of Hazut, who controlled it, took two dribbles and scored his second goal of the afternoon.
Oberholtzer said he knew his team was capable of putting games on ice, but he has finally started to see it emerge during conference play.
“It’s been something we’ve talked about for a couple of weeks, and we weren’t putting them away,” Oberholtzer said. “ ... I felt like, last Sunday, we put up four goals and I thought they turned the corner. I was hoping that was the case, and obviously, coming out today, the guys did fantastic.”
Through the first three RMAC games, the Skyhawks have outscored their opponents 12-5.
Hazut, a freshman, has found the back of the net four times for Fort Lewis so far this season. He said his connection with his fellow attackers has grown throughout the season.
“Our connection has built every game,” Hazut said.
The Roadrunners (3-4, 2-1 RMAC) hung tough despite going down three goals and found their second score of the day in the 61st minute, when Gutierrez crossed in a ball that was to no Metro State attacker in particular, but in an attempt to clear the ball off of the goal line, Metzger knocked it into the net for an own-goal, making it 4-2.
Eight minutes later, the Skyhawks found their fifth and final goal through Lee, when he scored his fifth goal of the season. Hazut found a cutting Lee breaking into the 18-yard box, and Lee was able to dribble around Tanner and score to put the game out of reach at 5-2.
The afternoon would get worse for the Roadrunners when defender Michael Longtine was issued a red card after a dangerous challenge on a Skyhawk attacker.
Though he did not get on the score sheet, Robby Bacu, a sophomore midfielder, came off of the bench and played 65 minutes for the Skyhawks and constantly made life difficult for the Roadrunners.
“He’s been getting better and better and has gotten to this point where he just puts his head down and works,” Oberholtzer said of Bacu. “We talk about that relentless effort and part of our foundation of this program, and he’s bought into that and it’s translating out on the field.”
Metro State head coach Jeremy Tittle declined to comment after the game.
The Skyhawks will take on Colorado Christian (0-5, 0-2 RMAC) at noon Sunday at home at Dirks Field.