Metro men’s soccer beat No. 6 seeded Fort Lewis 3-2 Oct. 31 at Auraria Field in the first round of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play.
The Roadrunners had to overcome an early 2-0 deficit as the defending national champion Skyhawks found the net twice in the first six minutes of the game.
Freshman midfielder Yannis Becker scored first for the Skyhawks, sending the ball past Roadrunner keeper Issa Bissau at the 4:17 mark.
Less than two minutes later, Skyhawks defender/forward Derek Freeman scored a header from inside the box off a corner kick from Becker, giving the Skyhawks a 2-0 lead.
“I think they did the scouting report on us, and with Mejia out of the lineup, they spent some time going up the left side of our field,” head coach Ken Parsons said. “We didn’t deal with the pressure they put on us there, and that was a little disappointing in the first 10 minutes.”
The Roadrunners played without their starting defender Andrew Mejia, who received a red card and was ejected from the game against University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Oct. 28.
”We are certainly a much better team with Mejia on the field,” Parsons said. “But, Tyler has gained some valuable experience over the 18 games, and we knew he was going to go in and do a good job for us.”
Metro freshman Tyler Gillaspie joined senior Jeremy Brooks, junior Nolan Glivar, and sophomore Josh Buysse on defense for the Roadrunners. The line finished the first half strong, giving their team an 11-7 shooting advantage over the Skyhawks.
Senior forward Marc Herschberger tied things up for the Roadrunners, scoring a pair of back-to-back goals in the first 4:38 of the second half. His first went into an empty net after Skyhawks Ryan Schaul made a diving save on a blast by junior midfielder Brenden Hughes only a minute in. Herschberger’s scored the second goal at the top of the box off a cross from the right side. It was Herschberger’s 11th goal of the season and his third career multi-goal game.
“I always kind of cherish the goals against Fort, and to put two away today, in one of the last games of my career, I am really happy,” Herschberger said.
And, Herschberger admits that a hat trick did cross his mind.
“I definitely thought about it,” Herschberger said. “I thought I had it off a volley near the end, but I am happy enough just to contribute the two and let Pierce get that final one.”
It was freshman midfielder Pierce Galan who scored the first goal of his collegiate career, giving the Roadrunners the win. The goal came in the 72nd minute when Galan shot the ball from the top of the box off a cross for fellow freshman Danny Arrubla.
“I am really excited about it,” Galan said. “I was a little nervous coming into the game, but the coach told me to go out there and get one and I just went out there and got one.”
Parsons said that his team did start out a little tentative so he talked to them about it at half-time.
“It’s a big game, but we told our guys there was no reason to be apprehensive,” Parsons said. “I think it took a lot of composure on Tyler’s part to score that third goal.
Parsons credited the team’s win to its ability to work together.
“We’ve had a great balance of youth and veteran leadership this year,” Parsons said. “Sometimes if the veterans don’t respond, and you expect the youth to carry the game, it’s a recipe for disaster. If you are expecting the veterans to carry the team because you have some youth on the field, it can also be a disaster.”
In his first season, Arrubla leads the Roadrunners with 13 goals and seven assists. Veteran player Herschberger is second with 12 and four.
“I think we have great depth this year, and the players coming up give a lot of hope for the future,” Herschberger said.
The Roadrunners will play the semifinal game at Colorado School of Mines Nov. 2.