The Lightning’s offense appeared poised to strike home the winning goal from the moment Jacob Gonzales scored the equalizer. But the sixth-ranked Lambkins’ defense buckled down to kill 24 minutes of regulation and two 5-minute overtimes to deliver the stalemate.
“The defense was tough, it was difficult to make plays, especially when you couldn’t make it to the other side,” said Gonzales, who notched his third goal of the season in the 56th minute.
Of all the Fort Collins’ (2-1-5, 2-0-2) players who caused Legacy’s (5-0-1, 1-0-1) offense the most frustration was Ben Greuel. The keeper finished with nine saves, filling the net a couple times on what appeared to be game-winning looks by Legacy.
Greuel set the tone with a diving save on a nifty through ball played to Gonzales tried to tuck away in the sixth minute. And he kept his momentum late into the game, denying Shawn Rusk’s break away attempt, when the junior forward had him dead to rights after beating two defensemen.
“He’s an agile big boy,” Legacy coach Tony Romano said. “He does a great job. He cleared one set piece tonight that I couldn’t believe he got to.”
Legacy’s defense remained stingy as ever, with keeper Gerrett Hernandez only having to weather five shots on frame. The only crack in the Lightning’s back field came on a nearly perfectly played set piece. Sam Tweeton headed in the opening goal off a free kick by Jesus Martinez in the 28th minute.
The Lambkins clear looks were few and far between, including Martinez who was shutout for the first time in seven games. Both teams’ also had to endure their fair shares of penalties Thursday, with Legacy collecting four yellow cards and Fort Collins finishing with four yellow and one red. And the red really stung, with the card being pulled on Lambkins’ back Ben Walker in the 51st minute.
“We lost our big center back and that changed everything for us,” Fort Collins coach Justin Stephens said. “They put on our heel for 20 minutes or so, when we were out of it.”
Legacy 1, Fort Collins 1
At North Stadium
Fort Collins (2-1-5, 2-0-2) 1 0 — 1
Legacy (5-0-1, 1-0-1) 0 1 — 1
Goals (assists) — Fort Collins: Sam Tweeton (Jesus Martinez), 28th minute; Legacy: Jacob Gonzales (Joseph Goracke), 68th.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves)—Fort Collins: Ben Greuel (80-1-9); Legacy:Hernandez (80-1-5).