Patience, patience and more patience.
It appeared, even more so than usual, the Fort Lewis College mens soccer team was just biding its time, not firing a shot for the first 17 minutes in a slowly paced first half and staying patient even after Colorado School of Mines took a 1-0 lead.
The patience paid off.
Joey Madigan squared the game, then Thomas Hoang and Alberto Capdepon Rodriguez gave No. 1 seed Fort Lewis the 3-1 victory over the fourth-seeded Orediggers in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Mens Soccer Tournament semifinal Friday at Dirks Field.
The pace that FLC head coach Oige Kennedy said he felt his side lacked in the possession game returned after halftime and especially after Philip Wilsons goal put the Orediggers (11-7-1) up 1-0 in the 48th minute. Central midfield tandem Rodriguez and Cory Dean acquitted themselves nicely to help FLC maintain possession, and a defensive unit that welcomed back Fabian Kling from a knee injury kept Mines mostly at bay except for Wilsons shot off the post in the 77th minute.
Honestly, it sounds strange, but I never really felt like we wouldnt win the game. ... I just felt we didnt possess the ball quick enough (in the first half), Kennedy said.
Madigan drew FLC (18-1-0) even in the 58th minute.
Rodriguez took a free kick from about 30 yards out and slid it to Madigan, who snuck from left to right around the CSM defense. The senior took the feed on the right side of the penalty area and slid it past Mines goalkeeper Manville Strand to tie the game.
We have about six different free kicks we work on at every single training session at the end of the week, so its good to see one come off for us, Kennedy said.
Just four minutes later, Hoang struck.
Madigan played Hoang in over the top, and the seniors rocket from 8 yards out sent most of the estimated 626 in attendance into a frenzy.
Rodriguez put the icing on the cake in the 72nd minute.
Madigans shot was cleared directly to Rodriguez, whose shot tucked into the upper right-hand corner of the net past new Mines keeper Ben Thomson for the final 3-1 margin.
I just see the keeper was a little bit ... out, and I think, Im just going to hit it, the freshman midfielder from Spain said. When it came off my foot I thought, Thats going in the goal. Its going to touch the net.
FLC was at full strength for the first time since losing Kosta Kordistos in early September and Kling for the final seven games of the regular season. Kling played all 90 minutes, and Kordistos came off the bench to contribute 51 minutes, mostly as a pain in Frank Kohlensteins side.
The longtime Colorado Mines bench boss appeared irked by what he thought were several dives by the freshman striker in a game that saw three yellow cards handed out.
Side antics are side antics; its up to the referees to solve that. Sometimes they do; sometimes they dont, said Kohlenstein, who thought Kordistos was flopping and disagreed with a few FLC tackles in particular.
The victory sets up a rematch between the Skyhawks and the lone blemish on their record, Metro State, for the tournament title at 1 p.m. Sunday at Dirks Field. The Roadrunners were 1-0 winners over No. 2 seed Regis in a game that saw a combined 20 shots on goal.
Rodriguez said its a matchup FLC has been itching for since falling Oct. 14 and a shot to accomplish season goal No. 2.
Thats what were working for all the time is to get the trophy, he said.