Euan Purcell left the pitch on the back of a golf cart.
Keane Hamilton left at halftime on a stretcher.
“This is the second time we’ve played Metro this year, and this is the second time I’ve had to go straight to the hospital after the game,” Fort Lewis College men’s soccer coach Oige Kennedy said.
“A lot of that comes from their sideline. They didn’t come here to play football; they came here to kick our players.”
Fort Lewis, the fourth-ranked team in Division II soccer, escaped Metro State College with a 1-0 victory Friday afternoon at Dirks Field, but the Skyhawks didn’t escape injury free.
Hamilton was undercut while in the air contesting a 50-50 head ball at midfield. He left the game in the 26th minute after his face and left shoulder absorbed the awkward landing – early diagnosis was a broken nose and broken collarbone. He lay on the pitch after the fall, then was helped off the field.
While the game played out to a scoreless tie at the half, Hamilton passed out from the pain on the Skyhawks’ sideline. Paramedics eventually strapped the junior midfielder to a stretcher, rolled him out the Southwest gate, then loaded him into an ambulance just before the start of the second half.
“I was standing right next to him when it happened,” Skyhawks senior co-captain and fellow central midfielder Jeff Jennings said. “When his head hit the ground, all I heard was a thud.”
Jennings, who said he didn’t think the play was meant to be malicious, called the injury “heartbreaking.”
“We tried to play our game,” Jennings said. “When people can’t play at the same level as us …
“A scrappy win is a scrappy win; at least we picked up another three points. That’s just the way the game goes sometimes.”
Fort Lewis, which will host this year’s RMAC Tournament, remained unbeaten in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference at 11-0-0.
Metro State is 6-3-2 in the RMAC and 9-5-2 overall, hardly playing up to its No. 25 ranking.
“They were trying to kick us,” said Zane Wells, who was the Skyhawks’ first hospital victim with a dislocated finger after their 2-0 win against the Roadrunners in Denver.
“They even disrespected us by not warming up properly. They came out for five to 10 minutes. I don’t know what that was about. Trying to prove a point?
“They’ve always been our enemy,” he said.
Typically an enemy with class, though. Even the Roadrunners’ 40-and-older fans were firing salvos at the Skyhawks’ redshirts atop the press box from the east bleachers.
On the pitch, there were 27 fouls, six yellow cards and one ejection. Metro State outwhistled FLC 18-9, and the Roadrunners were guilty on four yellows and one red card.
The nationally-ranked rumble royale was quiet for the first 13 minutes of the second half, until Purcell scored the game’s only goal in the 59th minute.
Sam Morris dribbled into the far reaches of the Roadrunners’ box and crossed to David Barden on the outside 6-yard line. Barden’s shot was deflected back to the 6, mid goal. Purcell, with his back to the frame, went horizontal to meet the ball at his hip and scored inside the near post for a 1-0 lead.
“He kind of semi-biked it,” Wells said. “I think it even went through a guy’s legs. We can always count on Euan to get us a goal.”
Purcell’s goal was his RMAC-leading 17th goal and 37th point.
Wells’ shutout was his RMAC-leading eighth.
“Usually, we don’t have a whole lot of trouble scoring,” said Wells, whose offense leads the conference in every major statistical category. “Defensively, though, we’re every bit as good: Fabian (Kling) and Jamie (Cunningham) are strong in the middle, and our two wings (Morris and Kyle Wood) can go at ’em from the sides.”
Tom Settle’s direct kick from 25 yards out hit the post in the 73rd minute.
Joe Barnd’s chip shot from 10 yards out just cleared the crossbar in the 90th minute.
Fort Lewis – 14-1-0 overall – had to settle for a 1-nil result in its penultimate regular-season home game.
FLC will host Regis at 1 p.m. Sunday on Senior Day.
“We tried to play the right way,” said Kennedy, hustling off the pitch en route to visit Hamilton at the hospital. “With an injury like that to someone like Keano, it shook our guys up. It took us awhile to get going in the second half, but I credit our guys for keeping our composure.”