Some postseason awards rolled toward Fort Lewis College women’s soccer players Tuesday ahead of the Skyhawks’ return to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament Thursday.
Fort Lewis (7-6-3, 6-4-3 RMAC) won its final four games to sneak into the conference tournament, including Sunday’s 4-0 win at New Mexico Highlands.
The Skyhawks opened the scoring 12 seconds into the game, as senior Bailey Webster found the back of the net on a pass from fellow senior Courtney Wamboldt to make it 1-0. FLC scored three times in the second half, as Webster added a second in the 67th minute to make it 2-0. Three minutes later, the Skyhawks added a third goal, as Katie Smith scored on a pass from Emma Patron. Freshman Kinley Carter wrapped up the win with FLC’s fourth goal in the 86th minute.
In order for FLC to ensure its place in the eight-team tournament, the Skyhawks had to win their final four games of the regular season. Fort Lewis College head coach Damian Clarke said the grit his team showed in the final month of the season was special to see.
“The team has turned out to be resilient, tough and it keeps getting a little bit better every time we go out,” Clarke said. “Getting those first two goals by Bailey, it was nice to have a senior kid come through with a bit of weight on her shoulders, doing business for the girls. I wish I knew where the lightning in the bottle happened. But realistically, this group has been making progress for two years. I think sometimes, you don’t always see progress through results, and I think they’ve been brave to keep digging and fighting for each other.”
The Skyhawks earned the No. 7 seed and will travel to Golden to face No. 2 Colorado School of Mines (15-2-1, 11-1-1 RMAC), the No. 16 team in the nation, in the quarterfinals of the RMAC Tournament at noon Friday. FLC played to a 0-0 draw with Mines back on Oct. 4 at home.
“We’re happy to not be done and know we’re going to be fighting for another game,” Clarke said. “We’ve had four straight games with our backs against the wall, and they found a way to win in all of them. The seniors don’t want to be done. The team doesn’t want to be done. I think that’s always going to be the message moving forward: Let’s go earn another game.”
The winner of Friday’s match will face the winner of No. 3 Dixie State and No. 6 Metro State University-Denver. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, the top-ranked team in the nation, is the tournament’s top seed and will face CSU-Pueblo.
FLC last won the conference tournament in 2009 in a shootout. It has won at least a share of the conference tournament title four times since 1998.
RMAC awardsThough no FLC players were named to the First Team All-RMAC list, Valerie Maestas, Patron and Smith were named to the second team. The Skyhawks also had Katie Dunbabin, Brit Johnson and Ashley Strader selected to the honorable mention list.
Patron had two goals and four assists for FLC this season, while Maestas had two goals and one assist. They each had one game-winning goal. Smith also had one goal and one assist.
Johnson and Strader also each had two goals and one assist, and Strader had another game-winner.
Dunbabin was strong in goal and took over the starting job the final five games of the season. She allowed only six goals and had a record of 5-1-2 with a 90.3 save percentage.