FLC
Capdepon-Rodriguez

DURANGO, Colo. -- No. 1 Fort Lewis (14-1-0 overall, 9-1-0 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) responded from its only loss of the season to defeat Regis (9-3-1, 6-3-1) 4-0 at Dirks Field.

“The one thing today spoke to was how strong our bench is,” third-year Fort Lewis head coach Oige Kennedy said. “It's great to see the whole squad stand up together and be committed to what we're trying to achieve.”

The Skyhawks were without the services of three regulars and had another battling illness Sunday. Fabian Kling (knee), Kostas Kordistos (knee), and Thomas Hoang (red card suspension) didn't dress for the game, while Jordan Alexander saw limited action due to an illness.

After a back-and-forth first 37 minutes, Fort Lewis scored in the 38th minute. Alberto Capdepon-Rodriguez played a ball to Artur Piperkov on the left flank. Piperkov, in turn, floated a crossing pass that found the head of Aaron Kloer, whose header was nearly saved by Regis goalkeeper Ben Sabados. As the ball trickled toward the goal line, Derek Freeman finished it into the open net for his fifth goal and fourth game-winner of the year.

A two-on-one in the 50th minute gave Fort Lewis a 2-0 edge. Casey Dean broke free on the right side and played the ball forward into space, which Joey Madigan ran onto. He side-stepped the keeper and blasted a shot toward the goal that glanced off a Regis defender at 49:30.

“What was really pleasing today was how well Casey Dean did,” Kennedy said. Dean, who has saw spot starting assignments at forward and outside midfielder this year, made the most of his opportunity in Hoang's absence. “He was very strong up top and got two assists. He was a bit unlucky not scoring a goal.”

Fort Lewis' third goal was a thing of beauty. Capdepon-Rodriguez drilled a 20-yard shot past the Regis wall into the upper 90 on a free kick at 60:52 for his second score of the season.

Alexander finished things off at 82:12 when he headed a crossing pass from Dean past Sabados to account for the final goal. He nearly added a similar score a few minutes later, heading a pass just wide of the far post.

The 4-0 score made the final outcome a bit more lopsided than the play on the pitch reflected. The two teams matched each other with 17 shots. The Skyhawks had a 7-5 advantage in shots on goal.

“They're a good side,” Kennedy said.

Ryan Wirth made five saves for Fort Lewis while recording his 10th shutout of the season. Fort Lewis and Wirth lead the nation in goals against average (0.33).

Sabados made three saves for the Rangers.

With three games and two weeks left in the regular season, Fort Lewis (30 points) owns a commanding eight-point lead against their closest challenger, No. 23 Colorado Mines (9-4-1, 7-3-1, 22 points). No. 18 Metro State (9-5-1, 7-4-0, 21 points), and Regis (19 points) are still mathematically alive. The magic number for Fort Lewis to clinch the regular season is two points.

“I think we knew a win today against Regis meant a win Friday gives us the conference title,” Kennedy said. “We're just hoping we can come out on Friday and finish it off.”