When the final whistle blew Friday afternoon at Dirks Field, the most common reaction to Fort Lewis College men’s soccer 1-0 win over Westminster College was relief.
Bar Hazut scored the game’s lone goal in the fifth minute and that was enough to put a halt to the Skyhawks’ longest losing streak since 2001 at four consecutive losses.
Graduate student and midfielder Lucas Matelich was more than relieved to get the win. Matelich filled in at center back for senior captain Marshall Metzger, who was suspended one match due to a red card against Regis last Sunday.
“It’s been what feels like months, and I know it’s only been two weeks, but it’s been a long time coming,” Matelich said. “Hopefully now, we’ve gotten over that hump and start gaining some momentum again, and it feels really good.”
Head coach David Oberholtzer knew his team had to get off to a fast start and they did just that.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think we’ve played poorly over the past couple of games, we just haven’t taken our chances,” Oberholtzer said. “We talked about going out and being desperate for an early goal, and the guys came through and found it. We’ve been waiting for a little momentum to go our way, and hopefully we found it today.”
The Skyhawks (6-4-2, 4-4-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) took the lead in the fifth minute when Ty Lang delivered a ball to Hazut, who controlled it from his chest, took three dribbles and ripped his shot into the bottom left corner of the net, giving Fort Lewis the start it needed.
“I just asked the ball from Ty, he saw me, gave it to me and the rest is history,” Hazut said about his finish.
After going down a goal, Westminster mounted a few chances particularly in the final 10 minutes of the match, but only registered five shots on the afternoon. Alongside Matelich filling in at center back, freshman defender Oz Levi was also solid at the back and he thought they back line communicated much stronger than in the previous matches.
“Our back line worked very hard today and I thought the clean sheet was so well deserved,” Levi said. “Like we said, we’ve got great players, and everyone who comes in does the same job and if not better, and that was the case today.”
After taking the 1-0 lead into halftime, the Skyhawks were pressed in the final 15 minutes of the match as the Griffins (9-3-1, 5-3-1 RMAC) looked for an equalizer. The best chance came in the 68th minute, when Amit Hefer had his free kick from just outside the 18-yard box go just over the crossbar. Griffins head coach Josh Pittman said it summed up the afternoon for Westminster.
“Well, we didn’t see enough and stick to our plan that we talked about at halftime,” Pittman said. “I think it cost us opportunities to get in front of the goal and we didn’t get it done today. Fort Lewis scored that early goal on our mistake, and that’s the game, and sometimes, that’s how it works.”
Oberholtzer said it was a team effort in earning the shutout.
“Lucas was great for filling in for Marshall, the back line and Salcido were really great as well, but really, it was a team effort,” Oberholtzer said. “The midfield did a ton of work and covered a lot of ground to get to second balls and I was just super proud of the group for the effort they put in today.”
The Skyhawks will host Dixie State at 1 p.m. Sunday at Dirks Field for the final regular season home match of the season.
Westminster 2, Fort Lewis 0In the women’s match, the Skyhawks lost their fifth consecutive match, and fell 2-0 to Westminster in Salt Lake City Friday afternoon. The Skyhawks (4-7-1, 3-5-0 RMAC) conceded a goal less than three minutes into the match, which was the earliest goal they have given up all season. Westminster (9-3-0, 6-2-0 RMAC) took the lead in the third minute when Aimee Kurfurst scored her fifth goal of the season, after a cross came across the back line and Kurfurst beat Kaylee Mickens and had an easy finish. In the second half, the Griffins were able to extend their lead. Emma Heyn scored the second goal of the match in the 72nd minute to put the match on ice.
Head coach Damian Clarke said that the offensive chances were hard to come by Friday, and FLC were unable to register its signature stat: Corner kicks.
“I think the thing that was really disappointing in the end, was that we didn’t earn any corner kicks,” Clarke said. “Those are the things that will allow us a bit of joy and create a little bit more danger in those situations, and I was disappointed that we didn’t get that done, but I can’t fault these kids for fighting their hearts out.”
Clarke said the message moving forward will be to continue preaching high-energy and show a fighting spirit.
“The attitude of the group is what we can control, and the attitude and energy is still there,” Clarke said. “These are the things we’ll continue to ask them to have moving forward, and to keep fighting and they’ve got that.”
Fort Lewis will take on Dixie State at noon on Sunday in St. George, Utah.