ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- Senior Niko Hansen of the University of New Mexico men's soccer team notched his first career hat trick on Saturday night, leading the Lobos to a 3-1 victory over UC Irvine on the road. The win marks the fifth straight for UNM, matching last season's longest win streak.
Hansen's hat trick is not only the first of his career, it is also the first by a Lobo since Devon Sandoval netted three goals against UNLV on Oct. 19, 2012.
"This was a great result with a 3-1 win on the road," head coach Jeremy Fishbein said. "We came out firing and I'm happy with the performance. We had some guys play real well including Niko with the hat trick and an excellent performance tonight by Simon [Spangenberg]. The guys were good tonight, took their chances and had great energy. It was a great result."
The Lobos are now 5-2-0 on the season and are receiving votes in the NCAA Top 25 rankings for the first time this season.
UNM got started early when Hansen, who went into this week ranked first in the nation in game-winning goals, weaved his way through three defenders and tapped the ball past UC Irvine (1-6-0) keeper Elliot Farmer for the 1-0 advantage. The score came in just the second minute of competition.
UNM continued to put pressure on the Anteater defense throughout the first half, outshooting UC Irvine 8-5 in the first period and displaying a 4-1 edge in corner kicks.
First-half chances for the Lobos included a header from junior Luke Lawrence in the ninth minute that was saved by Farmer as well as a couple of shots from long range that went wide.
The Anteaters threatened to tie the score in the 33rd minute when Ivan Canales made his way through the nearly impenetrable Lobo defense. Beaulieu picked up on the ball and saved the close-rang shot to keep UNM up 1-0.
The teams went into the break with New Mexico up by one and the Lobos came out firing again in the second period. Hansen netted his second goal of the game just four minutes into the frame when he took a pass from sophomore Simon Spangenberg and found the back of the net to put UNM up 2-0. The goal eventually became Hansen's fourth gamewinner of the season.
Hansen posted his third and final goal of the night in the 55th minute when he collected a deflected shot by junior Sam Gleadle and finished it off for a lofty 3-0 lead with 35 minutes remaining in regulation.
UC Irvine responded two minutes later with a looping header off of a corner kick to cut the Lobo lead back to two and score the first goal in the run of play on the Lobo defense this season. Prior to the score, UNM had not allowed a goal in over 483 minutes.
Overall the Lobos outshot the Anteaters 13-10 and held a 7-5 advantage in corner kicks. Hanson led the Lobos with three shots, all on goal while Lawrence registered two. Senior Chris Wehan, Spangenberg and Gleadle also added one shot on goal apiece.
Beaulieu improves to 5-2 on the season and posted three saves on the night compared to five for Elliot.
The Lobos return to action on Sunday, Sept. 25 when they travel to #21 Kentucky to open Conference USA play at 5 p.m. (MT).