Defending champs go down Round 1


Defending champs go down Round 1

Most years, the Fort Lewis College men’s soccer season lasts well into November.

This isn’t most years.

The No. 6 seed Skyhawks couldn’t hold on to a 2-0 halftime lead as No. 3 Metro State scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half before picking up a late winner in a 3-2 victory over FLC in the quarterfinals of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament on Wednesday in Denver.

Trailing by a pair, the Roadrunners roared back in a big way behind Marc Herschberger. He scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half to erase the FLC lead in as lightning-quick a fashion as the Skyhawks built it.

Pierce Galan put the nail in the coffin of a disappointing season for FLC with a goal in the 72nd minute that held up as the game-winner.

“We got ourselves two goals up. But it’s been like Jeckyll and Hyde all season. We kept making the same mistakes all season,” FLC coach Oige Kennedy said.

The Skyhawks built the lead in rapid-fire fashion in the first half as Yannis Becker and Derek Freeman scored within two minutes of each other, the last coming at the six-minute mark of the first half. But they were unable to dent Metro State goalkeeper Issa Bissau again the rest of the afternoon.

The Roadrunners outshot FLC 18-13, including a 10-5 edge in shots on goal.

Ryan Schaul made seven saves in net for the Skyhawks, who finished their national title defense 9-8-2 overall.

“We’ve just got to get back and work extremely hard to make sure we don’t have a season like this again,” Kennedy said.

Regis swaps with FLC on RMAC honor roll

Fort Lewis College started the season ranked first in the country and the preseason favorite to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

On the very day the Skyhawks’ men’s soccer side was eliminated from the RMAC Tournament that ended an altogether disappointing season, the conference released its end-of-the-season honor roll.

Regis, the regular-season champion, No. 1 seed at the RMAC Tournament and ranked No. 1 in the country, landed four players on the All-RMAC first team, including the coach and the defensive player of the year, and had six players overall on the three-team postseason roster.

The results:

Offensive Player of the Year – Tesho Akindele, junior, forward, Colorado School of Mines, Northglenn High School (Thornton).

Defensive Player of the Year – Taylor Diem, senior, defender, Regis, Middleton, Wis.

Freshman of the Year – Danny Arrubla, forward, Metro State, Chandler, Ariz.

Goalkeeper of the Year – Manville Strand, senior, Colorado Mines, Las Vegas, Nev.

Coach of the Year – Tony McCall, Regis.

Kyle Woodson, a senior on the Skyhawks’ back line of defense, was the only first-team representative for FLC. Woodson, a Colorado Springs native, transferred to FLC from Howard University.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Kyle,” FLC coach Oige Kennedy said in a news release. “He’s been superb. He can be proud of his time at Fort Lewis. We wish him the best of luck with whatever he decides to do.”

Casey Dean, an FLC co-captain, was named to the second team. Dean, a junior forward, is from Albuquerque. Artur Piperkov, a sophomore from Germany, was named to the second team but didn’t finish the season with the Skyhawks, and Yannis Becker, a a freshman from Germany, was the third FLC player on the All-RMAC second team.

“Casey had a tough season in terms of being able to get the ball in the net, but he’s been the heart and soul of the team,” said Kennedy, who considered Becker “a real candidate for RMAC Freshman of the Year.”

“He’s been a real impact player for us, and as his time goes on here at Fort Lewis, he’s only going to get better. He’s going to be a top-flight player in the country for many years.”

Kennedy said Piperkov endured a “tough year,” but he didn’t rule out the player’s return – “In years to come we hope he continues to improve and get better,” the fourth-year head coach said.

Daniel Wilson, a senior midfielder from Gilbert, Ariz., was the Skyhawks’ only representative on the third team.

“He’s battled injuries, and he’s always come out stronger,” Kennedy said of Wilson. “This year was a reward for all the hard work he’s had to do.”

FLC, after winning the program’s third national championship last season, finished its season 9-8-2 overall and 6-7-2 in the RMAC.

FLC reached the RMAC Tournament for the 17th consecutive season, the only team to reach the league’s postseason tournament all 17 years.

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Defending champs go down Round 1

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