TULSA, Okla - After losing their first match in over a year, the #3 New Mexico men's soccer team was out for revenge in Sunday afternoon's match-up against #20 SMU (0-2-1). New Mexico's attacking players took care of their business versus the Mustangs as UNM won by a score of 3-1.
It was a repeat of an unfortunate pattern for the Lobos to open the match against #20 SMU. New Mexico gave up an early goal for the second time in three games. The Mustangs would score in the 19th minute courtesy of Leobardo Vazquez. The freshman would score after Tyler Engel would send a cross in to John Lujano whose shot was blocked. Vazquez would score on the rebound to put SMU on the board.
"We started the game kind of slow. It was well over 100 degrees and humid, which made it pretty tough conditions to play in. They scored a really nice goal early on that I thought was a wake up call," Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein noted.
The Lobos would answer in a matter of minutes, and they would tie the match up at one goal apiece thanks to an Adrian Mora Delgado equalizer. It was the "Costa Rican Connection" that put New Mexico on the board as Mora Delgado would score from one yard out off the corner kick from his countryman Michael Calderon. The combination would give each their first points of the season.
The 1-1 score would carry over to halftime. At half SMU would lead UNM in shots 4-3, but UNM would lead SMU in corners 4-3.
The offensive pressure would be lifted by UNM from the first whistle of the second half. That pressure would have the Lobos knocking on the door early and often. That knocking included six UNM shots on goal over a stretch of four minutes and two seconds, which saw SMU's goalkeeper Jaime Ibarra make five saves in that four-minute span.
The Lobos would finally do more than knock on the door after that barrage of shots. They would bust down that door with a Blake Smith goal in the 67th minute. Smith would take a Lawrence Robledo pass at the left side of the box and put his shot into the open SMU net to give the Lobos the 2-1 lead.
The pressure would not relent from the Lobos as they continued to take aim at SMU's goal and its keeper Ibarra. A plethora of Lobos would have a go at the SMU goal with Ibarra continuing to make saves. However, UNM would find the back of the net for the third time in the match just ten minutes after Smith's goal.
Smith's fellow senior, Devon Sandoval, would record his third goal of the season off a left-to-right cross from Carson Baldinger from five yards out. The minute that followed Sandoval's goal saw SMU's Jaime Ibarra save shots from Baldinger and Nik Robson with a second Baldinger shot hitting the crossbar.
Sandoval's goal would be the final score of the match as the Lobos would walk away with the 3-1 decision. New Mexico would end the day with a massive shot advantage of 22-6 with Sandoval taking a new career high of seven shots.
"We fought back and had the draw, which we felt good about going into the half. Then, I thought in the second half we picked them a part a bit. So, I am really happy with how we responded, but we do still have some areas we have to get better in defensively," Coach Jeremy Fishbein said.
Senior goalkeeper Victor Rodriguez would pick up the win in his first start of the 2012 season as he recorded two saves on the day. The victory would be the 22nd career win for Rodriguez.
"He (Rodriguez) wasn't tested much at all. He seemed confident out there, and it was good to have him back," Coach Fishbein observed.
The victory puts the New Mexico record at 2-1-0 to this point in the 2012 season. After three road matches to open the season, the Lobos will finally return home. They will play their home opener versus #17 UAB on Friday, September 7th. The match is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at the UNM Soccer Complex.