An injury opened up a starting spot for the hometown product, and she quickly became Wednesday’s hometown hero.
Brooke Milliet scored in the 18th minute, and the third-seeded Fort Lewis College women’s soccer team held off sixth-seeded UC-Colorado Springs 1-0 in the first round of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament on Wednesday at Dirks Field.
Emma Cannis fed Milliet, a Durango High School alumna, who took a shot from the top of the right side of the penalty area back across goal, and UCCS goalkeeper Kelly Schroeder didn’t get enough of the shot as it tucked inside the left post for a 1-0 FLC advantage.
Milliet started at forward, a position she played at DHS, with Sam Weiss, the RMAC Player of the Year, out with a head injury. And she didn’t miss a beat, firing a pair of FLC’s 16 total shots and scoring the lone goal in 62 minutes of action.
“I think her and Emma think similar as far as how they want to combine and connect passes to get forward, and we thought maybe this is just it,” FLC head coach Damian Clarke said.
Moving back to forward, however temporary, from the central midfield was comfortable for Milliet, who made a name for herself as a prolific scorer in high school. Still, the position is different at this level and required a few adjustments.
“It was a lot of fun. Emma’s so fun to work with,” said Milliet, daughter of Charlie and Janis Milliet. “It’s just a whole different look at things. Playing forward in high school is so much different than playing forward in college. ... Things are much sharper, so if you’re sprinting all out for a ball, chances are people are going to get it to you.”
Caitlyn Espinosa returned to the net after a one-game absence and made five saves to earn the clean sheet.
Unlike Sunday’s overtime loss to Colorado Mines, the defensive effort was able to hold off the Mountain Lions (9-8-1). This time, FLC (15-4-0) did what it’s done nearly all year – grind out the victory late by choking off chances before they had an opportunity to materialize.
“This is a game where if it has to be 1-0, we need to make sure that we’re turned on and are capable of grinding for long enough to kind of kill the will of the other team,” Clarke said.
The Skyhawks held a 16-8 advantage in shots and had several near misses at adding to their lead. While missed opportunities can be worrisome as they leave the door open for an equalizer, midfielder Therese Romero took the opposite tact, feeling as though with all the chances being generated, FLC is on the verge of a big-scoring game.
“We have so many great opportunities, and it’ll come; it’ll definitely come,” Romero said.
No. 2 Metro State now awaits at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Golden, home of top seed Colorado Mines.
“They’re a very good team; it’s going to be a extremely competitive and challenging game,” Clarke said.