The Fort Lewis College women’s lacrosse team had to wait a little longer for the season-opening game, but the Skyhawks had no problem going on the road to play Tuesday after Saturday’s home opener was postponed by winter weather.
The Skyhawks started the spring 2021 season at Colorado State University-Pueblo. FLC was one goal better in each half in a 13-11 victory.
FLC, which had its 2020 season canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic after a 2-0 start, was happy to get back on the field and pick up a win to start the new campaign. The game did not count toward Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference standings.
“We were so excited just to be out there, and then to post a win over a team ranked higher than us right now was a great feeling and gave them so much more confidence than we had going into the game,” FLC head coach Ashley Travis said in a news release, referencing the preseason RMAC coaches poll that picked FLC sixth in the seven-team conference with CSU-Pueblo picked fourth.
FLC (1-0) trailed as much as 5-3 in the first half after Emily Eller scored her second goal of the match for the ThunderWolves (1-2), but FLC would score two goals with a player advantage because of CSU-Pueblo penalties, and FLC would score four consecutive goals before Eller struck again with six seconds to go in the half. That had FLC ahead 8-7 at halftime.
With a one-goal lead at 10-9, FLC would score three in a row in the final third of the second half, as Haley Dostie, Ann Nelson and Liv Crawford all found the back of the net to give the Skyhawks a commanding 13-9 lead.
FLC held off the ThunderWolves in the final six minutes to secure the 13-11 win.
Eller led the match with six goals, as she now has 16 this season. Nelson, an FLC senior, led the Skyhawks with four goals. Crawford, Dostie, Abby Escandon and Maren Clark each had two goals, and Ellie Martinez scored one.
“We went into the game knowing we needed to make strong moves and drive hard to the net,” Travis said. “Ann did just that and really played a great game on both sides of the field for us. As a team, we did a good job of getting people open. We know on attack that we don’t have just one goal scorer. What’s exciting about our team is that we have multiple people who can score, are confident with the ball and can put it in the back of the net.”
Crawford, Escandon, Martinez, Rebecca Kiyokawa and Nina Polk each recorded an assist for FLC. Crawford led FLC with nine shots and put six on goal. Nelson, who scored on two free-position shots, was perfectly accurate with seven shots and all of them on goal.
Kiyokawa claimed seven groundballs, while JoJo Lutz had five and Nelson and Martinez had four each.
FLC sophomore goalkeeper Averi Basso played all 60 minutes and made 11 saves. Ane Marie Horton of CSU-Pueblo made 15 saves in the loss.
“I think she went out there a little timid with those first-game jitters but then really found her groove,” Travis said of Basso. “It was a standout performance from her. And our defense was able to help her out by forcing some low-angled shots.”
The Skyhawks will return home to make up its home opener at 3 p.m. Friday against Colorado College. FLC will remain at home to play again at 11 a.m. Sunday against University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
“These final two non-conference games before we get into RMAC play are going to be crucial as we learn more about our young team,” Travis said. “After not playing a game for 300-plus days, these games will give us a chance to go against other teams’ defenses and let us learn what we need to work on. Being at home and not having coached a home game at Fort Lewis yet, I’m also excited for us to have the chance to play on our field, have fans at our games and have people cheering us on.”