Having scored multiple goals in all six games this season leading up to Tuesday, it’s safe to say it’s been fun to be in the front line of the Fairview girls soccer team.
But when forced to play from behind on their home field against Fort Collins, the Knights couldn’t come up with the brilliant run they needed. Add some unfair bounces, and some of the cruelty of the sport reared its ugly head for the hosts in a 1-0 Front Range League loss at the hands of the Lambkins.
Possession was decisively in Fairview’s favor throughout the league battle, but Nicole Dietrich’s goal from the middle of the field in the 42nd minute stood as the only goal in the game, giving Fort Collins its best FRL win of the season and leaving a bitter pill for Fairview to swallow.
“Fort Collins played a good game, but I don’t think this is who we are as a team,” said Fairview head coach Dan Niedringhaus, whose team dropped to 5-1-1 overall and 3-1-1 in the league. “I told them after they needed to take a good look into the mirror and ask themselves what they want out of the season, because this was a turning point for us, really.”
Finding success so far with the likes of Reci Smith, Skyler Anderson and a host of others finding about three goals a game, Niedringhaus has challenged his team in practice to work for more methodical runs as they dig deeper into the slate.
While he has been pleased with the work in those non-game scenarios, Tuesday’s contest was more run-of-the-mill than was to his liking.
“We played pretty well with possession but there was no sense of urgency up top, and we were shooting right at their keeper over and over again,” he said. “We played into their game. They packed everyone in, and we dribbled to the center of their defense and shot it. It was very predictable soccer.”
Throughout the first half, with the amount of possession in the attacking portion of the pitch, it seemed like the Knights would break through. There were a number of set pieces that looked good from the corner but just didn’t find paydirt — most of the serves coming from Sophie Fear.
With just about six seconds left before halftime, Fort Collins had its best chance of the entire first stanza, as Rachel Olsen laced a shot wide despite having a lot of net to shoot at.
It was just a small mistake on the Fairview defense, but the second one for the Knights just on the other side of halftime turned into the game-winning score.
Fort Collins (4-5, 3-3) jumped on a turnover, and Jill Rankin was able to center a ball to Dietrich, who in turn deposited her fourth goal of the season far side.
It was the Lambkins’ only shot on frame the entire game.
“We couldn’t put the ball away, but we had mistakes in the back that definitely cost us this game,” said senior defender Gaelyn Crowder. “It just didn’t come together.
“We had to come back to beat Liberty, but it just wasn’t there today. Eventually, we got to the urgency that we needed, but there were points when we didn’t have the urgency we should have had.”
Fairview still had 38 minutes to work with, but a couple of questionable offsides calls only added to some building frustration.
Anderson knocked a ball dead off the crossbar in the 59th minute from about 25 yards, and Sophie Fear almost snuck a direct kick in with just about 1 minute, 45 seconds to go from 20 yards. Fear punched the ball up and over the defense, and Fort Collins goalie Jordan Leone (seven saves) hesitated just a bit. The ball bounced off the far post and was cleared.
Fairview had nine corner kicks for the game. Because of the activity up front, Crowder firmly believes the team take the loss with the right tone.
“There’s still a lot of time in this season,” Crowder said. “We’re still on the same path, and we’re confident in what we can do going forward.”
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FORT COLLINS 1, FAIRVIEW 0
At Fairview HS
Fort Collins 0 1 — 1
Fairview 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Fort Collins: Nicole Dietrich (Jill Rankin assist), 42nd minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fort Collins: Jordan Leone (80-0-7); Fairview: Laura Hutchinson (80-1-0).