Nov. 6, 2010

Courtesy of Fort Lewis

DURANGO, Colo. -- Emma Cannis, Elena Benavides and Hayley Hollenga all scored goals as No. 3 Fort Lewis (17-1-1) defeated Colorado Mines (11-6-3) 3-1 today in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament semifinals at Dirks Field.

"It was a straight-up, solid performance," said fourth-year FLC head coach Damian Clarke. "Today is as well as we've played all year long from start to finish. We started out slow, but continued to get better and better throughout the game."

Cannis opened scoring at 31:22 when she fired a shot from 16 yards out past Colorado Mines goalkeeper Briana Schulze. Therese Romero played a ball into the box that ricocheted off FLC's Megan Striedel to Cannis, who wasted no time in burying her sixth goal of the season.

The Skyhawks' second goal was set up by hard work in the box. After FLC won several second balls, Erika Shisler found Benavides eight yards out. With her back to the goal, Benavides lobbed the ball high over both her and Schulze's head into the back of the net -- a move known as a "sombrero" in soccer vernacular at 69:18. The goal, which proved to be the game-winner, was Benavides' second of the season.

Less than a minute later, though, the Orediggers countered. Schulze played a long ball across the top that Anna Evans won and lobbed a long shot over the head of charging FLC goalkeeper Christine Schmelzle at 70:07. The goal was Evans' tenth of the year.

With the Orediggers pressing forward to try and level the score, the Skyhawks' counter-attack led to an insurance goal at 88:29 when Hollenga headed her team-leading 11th goal of the year into the net. Jane Barden sent a pass to Cannis just outside the box. Cannis touched a pass past a Mines defender to set up Hollenga, who chipped the ball over Schulze and then headed the bounce into the net.

Schulze and Schmelzle each made two saves in the game. Fort Lewis outshot the Orediggers 19-9, but it was nearly even in shots-on-goal, with the Skyhawks owning a slight 5-4 edge.

In the day's first semifinal, Rachel McMahon and C.C. Rinehart scored as No. 23 Regis (14-4-1) shut out New Mexico Highlands (12-6-2).

McMahon's fourth goal of the year gave the Rangers a quick 1-0 lead, just 3:04 into the match. Rinehart set McMahon up with the scoring chance, a shot from the left side that eluded NMHU goalkeeper Amanda Rose Johnson to the far post, bouncing safely off the iron into the net.

Rinehart's second goal of 2010, which gave Regis a 2-0 lead at 54:49, was a pretty one. Meghan Stuart crossed a perfect pass to Rinehart just a few yards in front of the goal, which Rinehart punched past Johnson.

Regis outshot New Mexico Highlands 22-7 and 10-3 in shots on frame. Johnson made eight saves in a losing effort, while Augsburger handled all three shots that she faced.

"I think it's going to be another absolute battle," Clarke said of the Sunday's championship, slated for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Dirks Field. "Both teams are excited to play against each other again. Regis poses problems, there's no doubt."