Fort Lewis College men’s soccer senior captain Marshall Metzger took a deep, hard look at Dirks Field and soaked it all in from FLC’s bench. He was the last Skyhawk, either player or coach, to exit the stadium after Friday evening’s 1-0 gut-wrenching overtime loss to Regis at home.
He stayed on the bench long after Oz Levi and Ryan Lee left in a similar stunned fashion. It was an unusual feeling for Metzger and his teammates. The Skyhawks have dropped three consecutive matches for the first time since the 2016 season.
“The final half of overtime, I have no clue, you know,” Metzger said. “They were a man down and we should have been able to play around them pretty easily, and I think we did just that. I think with 30 seconds left, we shut off mentally a little bit and that’s all it takes in soccer. Just a little lapse of mental fortitude and they can score just like that.”
The little things that have been compounding all season for Fort Lewis, such as letting teams remain in the game, caught up with them, when John Halter scored in the 109th minute of double overtime to give the Rangers (6-3-1, 5-1-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) a stunning 1-0 win, even after they played with 10 men due to a red card in the 71st minute.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Metzger said. “As a captain, I take a lot of responsibility, I don’t know what else can be done, but it’s not good; but that being said, the only thing we can do is look past it and move forward to Sunday.”
The Skyhawks (5-3-2, 3-3-1 RMAC) outshot Regis 15-19 and head coach David Oberholtzer said they did everything but find the back of the net.
“I think we did everything but score,” Oberholtzer said. “We created plenty of chances, we had a number of 1-on-1 opportunities, good looks at the goal, but if you don’t take your chances and score, that’s what’s going to happen.”
The first half was scoreless and the best chance for either side was in the 15th minute when Hakeem Rabiu had his shot on goal go just wide of the post. Raul Pescador also had a few chances, including his free kick that went just over the crossbar.
Freshman defender Levi said it was strange seeing the Skyhawks go through this stretch, but he believes they can get through it.
“It’s weird for all of us,” Levi said. “But as we said, we couldn’t keep our focus, and we gave up chances like how they scored today. We’ve lost on set piece goals and rebounds, but the guys are working hard and I’m sure we can figure it out and come back and win.”
The Rangers were reduced to 10 men in the 71st minute when defender Sam Gardner got tangled up with Landon Gibson after a foul was called, lost his cool and kneed Gibson in the groin. Even after the incident, the Skyhawks were unable to find the back of the net, and had two shots.
Junior goalie Victor Salcido had two key saves in the overtime period, making a save on a header in the 107th minute. Salcido initially saved Luca Kother’s initial shot, but Halter was there to put home the rebound, which gave the Rangers the win.
Regis acting head coach Taylor Diem said his side were resilient even after going down a man.
“Obviously, it’s always difficult to play up here with the atmosphere and Fort’s a great team,” Diem said. “I thought after we went down to 10 men, we played really well, and to be fair, if you were watching from the outside, it may not have looked like we were down to 10 men, but we created a lot of chances for ourselves and really shut them down defensively and any options they had. To get that goal as late as we did and in the matter that we did was absolutely incredible. Their resilience, and honestly, the fact that they kept going after such a long, hard game, hats off to those boys, because they absolutely set the tone for the rest of the team and it followed suit and it eventually resulted in the goal.”
“It’s kind of been the same things we’ve been dealing with earlier in the season,” Oberholtzer said. “We’ve just let teams hang around and we did that again today, and we got punished for it.”
Metzger said that Sunday’s match will be crucial and a true test to see where the Skyhawks are at.
“It’ll be a real test in mental strength,” Metzger said. “Coming off of a three-game losing streak, I think we’re going to see how much we’re made of and see how much grit and fight we have. As Obie says, we want to be a team witha mwinning mentality, and what that entails is, when you lose, you don’t it let you down and you don’t let the losses snowball into more losses. You’ve got to bounce back right away and it’ll be a real mental test for us.”The Skyhawks will take on University of Colorado-Colorado Springs at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Dirks Field.