All eyes were on the CSM soccer complex Friday night as the 20th-ranked Oredigger men’s team hosted second-ranked Fort Lewis College in a crucial Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference match between bitter rivals. The game was hotly contested, played with the fury and determination one would expect from a conference rivalry. A rowdy crowd was on hand, including a large contingent from Durango supporting the visiting Skyhawks. Unfortunately, the visitors pulled away late for a 4-1 victory over the Orediggers.
In the opening minutes, the Skyhawks were dominant, and only luck and superb defense on Mines’ part limited the early damage to a single goal. The goal, scored by striker Artur Piperkov ten minutes into the first half, came after a masterful joint drive passing display deep inside the Oredigger’s end of the field. Mines settled in after this early setback, and the midfield gained control of possession for much of the remainder of the first half, largely keeping the ball away from the Mines defense.
Although Mines’ strikers did not pull off any runs through the Skyhawk defense, it was not for lack of effort, and the aggressive, hard-charging Mines offense paid dividends late in the first half. Following a desperate Skyhawk foul to stop a serious charge at the goal, Mines midfielder Alex Nass coolly netted a goal off of a free kick from about thirty yards. Several Mines strikers crashed the goal in order to distract the Skyhawk goalkeeper, who missed what should have been a routine save. The game was tied, the crowd was on its feet, and the momentum temporarily shifted.
The second half opened with a series of missed opportunities for both sides, as a combination of spectacular saves and narrow misses perpetuated the deadlocked score. This was a very physical half, with a number of yellow cards on both sides. Fort Lewis continued to wear at the Mines defense, applying more and more pressure as the half progressed. Finally, the dam broke as Johannes Sander netted a header off of a corner kick in the 64th minute. Fort Lewis unleashed all of its firepower in the final half hour, scoring two more goals to complete a regular season sweep of the Orediggers, 4-1. It was an exciting game, but the Orediggers seemed outgunned from the start against one of the elite Division II teams.