WESTMINSTER — Legacy coach Anthony Romano hates to be reminded of the fact that all four of his team's setbacks this season have been one-goal matches.
But as painful as though losses are to take — including Tuesday's 2-1 defeat at the hands of No. 4 Fort Collins — he and his team understand that the Lightning are not that far off with the playoffs looming.
"These guys are playing good soccer and those games that we've won those narrow match-ups, Boulder as an example, we played 80 minutes," said Romano, whose No. 10 Lightning dropped to 9-4-1 overall and 7-3-1 in the Front Range League. "Tonight we played 60 minutes and we paid for those first 20 ... it's that simple.
"And the reality, against a quality side like Fort Collins, you give them those (opportunities), they are going to say thank you and put it in the back of the net every time."
It didn't take long for the Lambkins to grab the lead at the North Stadium. On a direct free kick from just over 35 yards out, Matthew Rhoads hit a perfect ball to Ivan Castillo's far post that was timed just right by Lucas Alessi, who tucked it just inside the woodwork with his head.
Five minutes later, the Lightning lost focus in the defensive third and paid for it dearly. A ball meant to be sent back to Castillo was pounced on by Fort Collins' Alec Fronapfel, who finished with ease.
"We have got to omit a few small errors, communication issues," Romano said. "And I think if we do that, this game looks a lot different if we are not down 2-0."
The Lightning were forced to chase a game against a Lambkins side — that besides a five-goal second-half against Broomfield — had only surrender two goals all season.
Legacy got themselves back in the match in the 27th minute with a brilliant transition goal. Senior captain Andrew Dunham played a great through ball to his fellow captain, Stephen Goth, who was streaking down the right side with two Lambkins defenders on his shoulder.
Goth beat them both, and with Fort Collins keeper Alex Snavely slightly out of his goal, he chipped a shot over his head to the far post to cut the lead in half.
"We created a lot of chance tonight and just missed a couple good ones here and there," Romano said. "I'm very happy and confident about this team heading into the playoffs. I think they are strong and are going to be ready to cause some problems for some people."
The best equalizing chance for the Lightning came in the 78th minute when Kyle Mikan's direct free kick, sent into the box from long range, was headed just wide by junior defender Ben Tuka.
Legacy, with one match to play on Thursday night at Poudre, is on the cusp in the RPI of hosting a first round playoff match. They are currently No. 13, but Romano doesn't think it'll mater too much where they end up.
"They are doing much more well than they are poorly and I feel like these guys have the ability to make those small changes," he said. "Obviously we'd love to be home and get some support from our fans, and I think it is going to be close with the RPI, but the truth is I'm confident we can go anywhere and if we have to travel, then so be it."
FORT COLLINS 2, LEGACY 1
At North StadiumFort Collins (12-1-1, 9-1-1)20—2
Legacy (9-4-1, 7-3-1)10—1
Goals (assists) — Fort Collins: Lucas Alessi (Matthew Rhoads), 8th minute; Alec Fronapfel (unassisted), 13th; Legacy: Stephen Goth (Andrew Dunham) 27th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fort Collins: Alex Snavely (80-1-4); Legacy: Ivan Castillo (40-2-3), Brandon Hansen (40-0-3).