ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The seventh-ranked University of New Mexico men's soccer team overcame a late, game-tying goal in regulation to defeat UC Irvine (3-3-1) in double overtime. The Lobos conceded an Anteater equalizer with three seconds left in regulation before recording the 2-1 overtime victory. UNM used the victory to win the 2012 TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Lobo Invitational.
UNM won the game on a header from Carson Baldinger that was reminiscent of the sophomore's game-winner against Duke in the NCAA Tournament last year. Baldinger's goal came off a Ben McKendry corner with one minute and three seconds left in the second overtime period.
"Soccer is a crazy game, and it takes some funny bounces. Who would have thought they would tie it up? But I thought our reaction was good, and we got a nice goal to win it in overtime," noted Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein.
The scoring drama was limited to the second half and overtime after both teams went scoreless in the first half. The game was played at a slower pace for the first forty-five minutes with each goalkeeper recording two saves.
The second half provided the fireworks that began with a beautiful combination of passes that lead to James Rogers putting the Lobos on the board with his second goal of the year in the 60th minute. Blake Smith and Devon Sandoval would each record an assist as Smith flicked it to Sandoval at the top of the box to start the series. Sandoval flicked to the left side of the box where Rogers used his left foot to score at the near post.
The Lobos held the second half edge in shots and corner kicks, but they still gave up a tying goal in the final seconds of the second half. UNM keeper, Victor Rodriguez, punched out a UC Irvine free kick that landed at the feet of Cameron Iwasa at the top of the box. The Irvine sophomore immediately fired a right-footed shot through traffic and by a diving Rodriguez to force overtime.
The Lobos regained control of the game in the first overtime period by forcing two saves from Irvine's Michael Breslin in the final minute. Breslin helped force a second overtime where the Lobos would conjure up a bit of magic.
New Mexico's pressure kept the ball on the Irvine half of the field for most of the second overtime period, which earned the Lobos three corners. The final corner triggered the game-winning scoring action. Freshman Ben McKendry would launch the ball into the box from the far side of the field. The corner found Carson Baldinger, who rose above the rest, to head the game-winner home.
"You can't dwell on missed chances to clean it out. There are no excuses, and it's disappointing, but I thought the reaction was great. It was a reaction that the guys were extremely confident. They put themselves in a little more difficult situation than they needed to, but it was a great win," Coach Fishbein commented.
With the victory, the Lobos clinched the 2012 TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Lobo Invitational title. Coach Fishbein and company placed four members on the All-Tournament Team, which included Michael Calderon, Levi Rossi, Devon Sandoval and Kyle Venter. Sandoval was named Offensive MVP of the Tournament while Venter earned defensive MVP honors.
UNM (5-1-0) returns to action next weekend as they host the Nike Lobo Invitational at the UNM Soccer Complex. The Lobos face Fairfield on Friday, September 21st at 7 p.m. before taking on Northern Illinois on the following Sunday afternoon.
Offensive MVP: Devon Sandoval - New Mexico
Defensive MVP: Kyle Venter - New Mexico
Champions: New Mexico