So, so close.
The Fort Lewis College womens soccer team came within one well-placed shot by Jordan Miller of Regis from winning a second consecutive Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference regular-season title, and with it, RMAC Tournament hosting duties.
Instead, the Skyhawks will open the RMAC Tournament at 3 p.m. today at Dirks Field against New Mexico Highlands, an always-dangerous offensive team that boasts Julissa Rodriguez and Janelle McGee, the two leading goal scorers in the RMAC.
McGee missed the Skyhawks 2-1 win at Dirks Field two weeks ago because of more pressing commitments.
Highlands, its a very tricky game, to be honest. ... Theyve got two of the best forwards in the conference, so well have to come out and play the same sort of defense weve played the last few games, Skyhawks head coach Damian Clarke said Monday.
While disappointed at missing out on host duties and another league championship, the Skyhawks are itching for a shot to do to Regis what the Rangers did to them a season ago.
The Rangers came to Dirks Field a year ago and upended the top-seeded Skyhawks in the tournament final after FLC scored the regular-season title.
I think our girls, to be honest, are excited about playing, Clarke said. Theyre excited about having an opportunity to play (today) and get themselves a chance at going to Regis field and try to do the same thing they did to us.
Clarke said playing as well as Fort Lewis did against Regis on Sunday outshooting the Rangers 11-7 and coming up empty was worse than just having an off day because the Skyhawks couldnt shrug it off as a poor performance; rather they just got beat on a good day.
Theyre disappointed. They played extremely well and didnt get a result against Regis. Thats hard, he said.
First, however, FLC has to navigate through both the Cowgirls (10-7-1, 8-5-1 RMAC) and Colorado Mines (14-2-2, 10-2-2 RMAC).
The Skyhawks and Orediggers tied for second in the league with 32 points, but Mines earned the No. 2 seed by virtue of a 4-0 victory over Fort Lewis earlier this season.
With Minnesota State-Mankato going 0-1-2 over its last three games, the odds are good that if one of the top three RMAC seeds takes home the tournament title, the extra door prize will be hosting the NCAA Central Region Tournament.
On Tuesday, Colorado Mines was ranked first in the Central Region and Regis second. FLC shared third with Mankato and Winona State (Minn.).
The Central Region champion will host all the way through the final four, provided it survives to the Sweet 16.
Clarke, whos on the regional seeding committee, refused to predict how it would shake out, saying a prediction would be in bad taste. But the FLC bench boss did say he expects the RMAC winner to have the best shot of hosting, something the Skyhawks wouldnt mind.
As long as nothing crazy goes on in the RMAC Tournament, theres a good chance (the tournament winner) could come out hosting the (NCAA) tournament, he said.