Colorado Mines was 2-0-1 against the Fort Lewis College mens soccer team a season ago.
From the outset Sunday, the Skyhawks served notice that this year would be much, much different.
Kosta Kordistos scored two minutes in, Aaron Kloer added another in the second half, and Fort Lewis held off a furious charge from the No. 8 Orediggers to move to 4-0-0 with a 2-1 nonconference victory at Dirks Field.
Kordistos third goal of the season came before much of a sizeable crowd had time to take their seats.
Thomas Hoang played a through ball to the German on the right side, and he outraced his defender before sliding a shot past goalkeeper Manville Strand to stake No. 18 Fort Lewis to a lightning-quick lead.
Kordistos later left the game with a knee injury and was held out as a precaution.
We talked about that, the first 10 minutes, just coming out all guns blazing and try to put them under as much pressure as we could, Fort Lewis head coach Oige Kennedy said.
After halftime, the Orediggers (3-1-0) flipped the field after the Skyhawks had the better of the chances and possession in the first half.
Ryan Wirth made a diving save on a low, hard strike from Alex Nass to keep Mines scoreless in the 62nd minute.
Three minutes later, Kloer turned the tide. A beautiful cross from Joey Madigan on the left wing found a home on Kloers head and then in the back of the net in the 65th minute for the eventual game-winner.
Cory (Dean) had been telling me anticipation, anticipation, anticipation, said Kloer, who started in place of the injured Casey Dean.
And so, Joey got the ball on his foot, he cut his kid, and he was about to cross it, so I just got on the back pole.
Mines coach Frank Kohlenstein, in his 14th year at the helm, thought Kloer should have been whistled for a foul on his tally after he skied over a defender to position himself for the header.
I think if you watch a replay, youll see that he had both hands on his back. I dont think youre allowed to do that, Kohlenstein said with a wry grin. The referee said it was almost a foul. Thats a new one.
Mines refused to go away, cutting the lead in half when Chike Sullivan, who came off the bench, spun off his defender and scored from 15 yards out in the 73rd minute, halting Wirths streak of 421 minutes, 34 seconds without allowing a goal dating back to last season.
From then on, the Orediggers continued their dogged pursuit of an equalizer, forcing the Fort Lewis defense to clear multiple runs and crosses.
If it comes down to them entering the box, us two have to put everything out and make sure they dont get anything off at any cost, Kling said regarding his position and that of fellow center backJohannes Sander.
Mines nearly drew even in the first half.
Sander fell a half-step behind Tesho Akindele on the right side of the penalty area in the 42nd minute, but the redshirt freshman recovered to make a strong slide tackle to snuff the shot attempt.
If the goal for the weekend was to prove that Fort Lewis is back among the top sides in the nation after a down year last season, the Skyhawks took a giant leap in that direction with victories over a pair of top-20 teams.
Theyll look to carry that momentum into Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play, which begins next Sunday at CSU-Pueblo.
Kling said the reason for the turnaround has every bit as much to do with mindset as skill.
I feel like this year, everyone is pulling on the same string. Everyone knows what its about all the way from the seniors to the redshirt freshmen, he said.