LAS VEGAS, N.M. — Elena Benavides tied the game with 13 seconds left in regulation play then netted the game-winner in overtime to lead No. 7 Fort Lewis (9-0-1 overall, 6-0-0 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) to an improbable 3-2 overtime win over New Mexico Highlands (2-6-0, 1-4-0) tonight at Perkins Stadium.
“It was probably one of the best wins I’ve ever seen the kids have,” said fifth-year FLC head coach Damian Clarke. “To come back twice … we just never stopped. It was absolutely unbelievable.”
Benavides’ heroics started on FLC’s final scoring chance in the waning moments of regulation.
“Elena dropped a bomb to the upper left hand corner,” said Clarke. “The she hit a bomb with her left foot to the upper V.”
Benavides’ first goal was unassisted. Megan Striedel assisted on the game-winner.
After a scoreless first frame, the Cowgirls struck first. Preseason RMAC Player of the Year Julissa Rodriguez netted her fourth goal of the season off an assist by Britny Cottrell to put NMHU ahead 1-0 just 2:38 into the second stanza.
The Skyhawks answered back in the 61st minute when Hayley Hollenga’s free kick got past NMHU netminder Bianca Contreres inside the far post and into the side netting. The marker was Hollenga’s fifth of the year, tops on the FLC side with Emma Cannis. Cannis saw her seven-game point-scoring streak snapped in the game.
The Cowgirls answered back when Janelle McGee scored her third goal of 2011 on a breakaway set up by Jaime Sawchuck at 75:06.
Enter Benavides. Exit Cowgirls.
Fort Lewis outshot NMHU 20-13, 11-6 in shots on goal. Contreres made eight saves in the losing effort. Raso stopped four shots in improving her record to 8-0-1.
Fort Lewis continues its road trip with a 1 p.m. tilt at Colorado Mesa (5-4-1, 4-1-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Skyhawks narrowly defeated the Mavs 2-1 in Durango on Sept. 21.