Even in exhibitions such as Saturdays alumnae game between the Fort Lewis College womens soccer team and some of the programs finest former players at Dirks Field, some goals are more important than others.
For former FLC standout Kelly Smith, not only did her goal in the 66th minute boost the alumnae to a 3-2 comeback victory, it also temporarily lightened a financial burden.
As a youngster, Smiths dad, Ron, regularly would buy his daughter ice cream after games in which she scored a goal. He offered a similar incentive before Saturdays tilt. Only Smith wasnt interested in frozen treats she was looking for a reward more befitting her adult status.
I said, Why dont you pay my car payment? And my dad said, Alright, if you get a goal, Ill pay your car payment, she said with a victorious laugh.
And so Smiths flick past the goalkeeper earned her a months reprieve from payments on her 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe. By the same token, it also gave former Skyhawk keeper and newly-hired assistant coach Bree Baker a bit of bragging rights over head coach Damian Clarke, a fact the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conferences reigning coach of the year hadnt missed.
Im never going to live this one down, Clarke said.
Baker was a big reason FLCs finest from days gone by mounted a strong second-half rally. She made several strong saves in the second half to keep the current Skyhawks at bay during a 2-2 and later a 3-2 contest.
At the same time Baker was snuffing FLCs tries for an equalizer, she also was keeping up on her assistant coachs role; she said she was talking constantly to the Skyhawks forwards, giving them tips on what lanes to take through the defense and other helpful tidbits.
The whole time I was talking to forwards, pushing and pulling them identifying the gaps that we wanted them to see, she said.
After trailing 2-1 at halftime, the alumnae came out firing in the second half. Becky Gilmore-Eisenbraun, who scored the lone first-half goal, potted an absolute beauty to tie the game at 2.
Gilmore-Eisenbraun, who is married to FLC mens soccer alumnus Brian Eisenbraun, got the ball on the fringe of the right boundary line of the penalty area, sealed off her defender and took off down the right side toward goal. She then slid, hooking the ball past the outstretched fingers of keeper Christine Schmelzle.
Then, it was Smiths turn. Her flick past the keeper set of a celebration intended to try and wring two car payments instead of one from her dad. She pointed immediately to her left foot, indicating that shed gone above and beyond the agreement by scoring with her off foot.
Im trying to get two payments out of it, because it was my left foot with the toe, Smith said. Ive never done it. ... Im going to bring it up a lot.
Before Gilmore-Eisenbraun tallied late in the first half, the 2010 Skyhawks held a comfortable two-goal cushion.
Hayley Hollenga corralled the ball at the top of the penalty area when it popped in the air after being sandwiched between her and Baker. She then calmly fired the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Hollenga and Torrey Larson, who tied for the team lead in 2009 with 10 goals apiece, hooked up for goal No. 2. Hollenga sealed off her defender before spinning and threading a pass across to Larson, who buried a shot in the upper right-hand corner of the net.
Clarke was pleased with Hollengas output after her newly minted shift from striker to center midfielder.
Without a doubt you can tell shes just an absolutely dominant player, he said.
Up next for the Skyhawks is an exhibition with Division III Colorado College on Monday in Colorado Springs.
It should mark the first action for Elena Benavides, who missed the game after being under the weather earlier in the week. Center defender Laurel Reinhardt of Pagosa Springs also missed Saturdays game.
Minor aches and pains necessitated liberal substitutions for Clarke on Saturday.
Their legs, you could tell they werent quite there, Clarke said. At the same time, youre playing against girls who some of them were professionals at times. Theyre playing against absolute quality.
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