New Mexico –1 George Mason-0 (NCAA Tournament Second Round)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In the days leading up to the University of New Mexico’s second round NCAA Tournament match, Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein told reporters that Sunday’s match would come down to “having a defend first mentality” and “attacking players taking the chances they get”. Fishbein’s words proved to be true as New Mexico (12-5-2) defeated George Mason (12-3-6) 1-0 on a snowy, windy fall evening at the UNM Soccer Complex.
It was forward James Rogers who took advantage of the opportunity he was given in the Lobo attack as the junior buried home the match’s only goal in the 83rd minute. Rogers’ seventh goal of the season came off a pass from Niko Hansen on UNM’s 17th shot of the evening. The Lobo backline and goalkeeper Michael Lisch limited the Patriots to just two shots on goal as New Mexico secured a spot in its third-straight Sweet 16.
The Cherry & Silver were the aggressors from the first whistle as they outshot George Mason nine to two in the first half. Rogers would force a save from Steffen Klaus in the match’s first three minutes of action. UNM would not find the back of the net in the first 45 minutes despite putting four shots on frame and holding a four-to-one advantage in corner kicks.
New Mexico, which was still hungry for a goal, came out attacking in the second half as well. The Lobos took the first three shots of the half without finding their way onto the scoreboard. Rogers’ goal came at the end of a Lobo barrage as they peppered the George Mason goal at a shot-a-minute pace. Niko Hansen would set up the scoring action by gathering a pass and attacking down the right side of the box towards the goal. As he approached the near post, Hansen slid a pass through a crowded six-yard box to the foot of James Rogers who put away the goal from point-blank range.
New Mexico nearly got a late insurance goal of a counter attack when Christopher Wehan dribbled down the middle of the field with a ton of space. As he approached the box, Wehan took a left-footed shot that hit the post in the 89th minute.
Coach Fishbein and the Lobos finished the match with a 19-4 shot advantage that included six UNM shots on goal. The Lobos also held a 7-2 corner kick advantage by match’s end.
The win over George Mason snapped the Patriots’ 13-match unbeaten streak. It also means New Mexico will host Penn State in a Sweet 16 match-up on Sunday, December 1 at the UNM Soccer Complex at 5 p.m. (MST).
New Mexico (82:19) – James Rogers (Niko Hansen assist)
New Mexico starters: Lisch (GK), Gibbons, Venter, Miele, McGoverm, Kafari, Calderon, McKendry, Rogers, Wehan and Hansen.
Halftime Substitutes: Fisher
Second Half Substitutes: Rochowski (56:23)
“I have the upmost respect for that team (George Mason). I think that was their sixth or seventh match in 16 days, and I think they played it pretty right…. We dominated the possession and created chances and we didn’t put it away. The longer we left them in the game, there was going to be a chance for them to get something off a set piece or a slip. We were fortunate that we didn’t allow that, and we defended real well.” – Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein
“In this first game (in the NCAA Tournament) unless you score early, it’s going to be tough because you’re playing good teams. There’s going to be some jitters. It was important to get it under our belt. I was really proud of our team with their mentality. We expect to be here and are really battle-tested this year. ” – Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein
“It was a great finish on some good attacking play. We connected some passes, and James’ movement was very good. We were able to find him and he finished with his left foot at the far post. He’s a dynamic player and we need to find those moments out of our attacking guys.” – Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein
New Mexico will host the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, December 1 at 5 p.m. (MST) at the UNM Soccer Complex.