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FHSU soccer drops close one

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Coach Brett Parker was visibly unhappy with his Fort Hays State University men's soccer team. The Tigers led West Texas A&M 1-0 most of the contest, but WTAMU took advantage of a strong south wind and scored a pair of goals in the final 28 minutes. Fort Hays lost 2-1 on Tuesday afternoon at FHSU Soccer Stadium.

"We just got outplayed, outworked in the second half," Parker said. "They had a couple of lucky bounces, but credit to them, they created those opportunities, they created their luck. They deserved the victory."

Fort Hays, ranked No. 18 in NCAA Division II and second in the Central Region, dropped to 10-3-2, while West Texas, ranked before it dropped out in Tuesday's latest poll, moved to 11-3-1. The game had bitterly cold temperatures and mist/drizzle conditions throughout. West Texas A&M purposely wanted to play the wind in the second half for the advantage.

"That's kind of a personal belief that we try to do," West Texas coach Butch Lauffer said.

In the first half, Fort Hays had the wind advantage. Senior Daniel Peralta played a long ball into the box for senior Ricardo Yeverino, who worked around two defenders and curled in a shot just inside the right goalpost. Yeverino has a team-high 10 goals and has scored in five of the past six games.

West Texas, though, continued with the pressure. At halftime, the teams each had four shots. In the second half, West Texas collected eight shots, six more than Fort Hays. Through scouting, Lauffer wanted his team to keep putting the attack on the Tigers. Fort Hays is 1-3-1 all-time against West Texas.

"The second half obviously helped playing with the wind," Lauffer said. "I thought our kids played really hard and we put Fort Hays under pressure and made it hard for them."

West Texas tied the score at the 62:40 mark when Wayne Burton shot in the upper left hand corner of the goal. FHSU junior goalie Kent Freund got a hand on it, but the ball just stayed inside of the goal.

"That was a savable ball, but in the conditions and the wind, it didn't really look at a shot to be fair at first - kind of hitting it towards the goal and hoping that it goes in," Parker said. "Caught a lucky break."

Fort Hays rarely had opportunities in the second half.

"We know they like to play from the back," Lauffer said. "It's a good team here. They are difficult, but the thing with a team that likes to play like that, what you don't want to allow happen is let them get into a good rhythm and start to let them dictate the tempo and the match."

At the 83:26 mark, West Texas A&M's Wayne Burton's ball deflected off Fort Hays' Drew Wilson inside the box. Wilson's deflection went straight to a wide-open Chris Hutton, who booted it past Freund.

"It was just a missed tackle, ball skips through and the next thing you know, there is a guy that has broken through," Parker sad. "There wasn't really anything they did to break us down. It was just tight pressure."

Fort Hays will travel to Southern Nazarene on Friday and West Texas on Sunday to close the regular season.