Two impressive rallies from four goal deficits weren’t enough for the Skyhawks to overcome the Titans of Cal St. Fullerton on Saturday as they fell for the first time on the season 13-12. Fullerton’s star freshman Cameron Cole led the way for the Titans with 4 goals, including the game winner with three minutes left in the game. A furious Fort Lewis rally couldn’t find the back of the net, despite multiple opportunities in the final few minutes. The game was the last one for the Skyhawks on their annual Spring Break road trip to California.
Complete game stats at http://mcla.us
The game had a playoff atmosphere at times, as the teams battled back and forth throughout, and had multiple highlight worthy plays from both ends of the field. The Skyhawks fell behind 5-1 in the first quarter, but managed to shutout Fullerton in the second quarter while scoring 4 unanswered goals to end the half tied 5-5. A short warmup by the Skyhawks definitely contributed to the slow start, and some defensive adjustments had to be made to stop the dynamic Titan brothers Cameron and Chris Cole, who are among the best players in MCLA DII without a doubt. The Fort defense made the adjustments and played a physical game to get back into it.
The second half saw the Skyhawks take their first lead 8-7 after spectacular individual dodging efforts by freshmen Grant Arthurs and Bradey Hall. Unfortunately for the Fort, Bradey Hall injured his hamstring as he was fouled from behind on his goal and he would not return in the game. The Titans also made adjustments to get their offense going and they managed to score five unanswered goals to find themselves leading 12-8 with 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter. For the second time in the game, the stellar Fort Lewis attack helped spark a four goal rally to tie the game 12-12, including 3 goals in just over a minute with impeccable transition passing and clutch finishing. The final seven minutes of the game were an exercise in defensive intensity, as neither team wanted to give up the pivotal goal. A low to high rocket from Cameron Cole sealed the deal for Fullerton, who improves to 7-3 on the season, and looked every bit the #18 team in the nation, if not better.
Faceoffs were a problem for the Skyhawks, winning only 10 of 22 draws, and also having a couple of false start infractions. Time of possession also favored the Titans, not surprising in a game where the Skyhawks found themselves behind multiple times. Up next for the Skyhawks is a game against rival University of Northern Colorado on March 24th in Greeley.
Being home safe in Durango after a long drive home, it is nice to have some perspective on where we stand as a team now. Trips like this one are invaluable to college teams because there is no other way for a team to discover their identity. I am proud of this team for having a shared vision of what it means to be part of a family, to play hard without pointing fingers, and to strive to improve every day. This was a unique California trip for this program, as we took advantage of off days to use local parks to practice, to surf, and to have some excellent home-cooked meals prepared by the players. I found it quite entertaining to see the state of disrepair in many of the players rooms, I forget sometimes that a lot of college guys can’t cook or clean for themselves. Hopefully they learn those valuable skills. I want to thank my assistant coaches, Jay Rekau and Bob Berding (who flew out to San Diego just for this trip!), you guys really added a veteran alumni touch and some great energy. Thanks also to the wonderful parents and friends who came out to see us play, especially former FLC Coach Zane Bilgrav who got to see his own son play for UCSD against us on Tuesday. It is inspiring to us all to know that people out there are rooting for us. Thank you!
Home sweet Durango…it is good to be back. Now it is time to put together what we learned on this trip and bring to the RMLC competition.