ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico men's soccer team wanted to prove they were worthy of hosting a NCAA Tournament second-round game after a first-round bye. Their 3-1 victory over the University of Virginia (10-7-4) on Sunday night eliminated any doubts about this year's Lobos.
"It was a really great win, and I am so proud of our guys. We played an excellent team tonight. We knew Virginia had some quality players and that big target (Will Bates) was everything you could ask for. He was good, and they were good attacking players. Our guys were tough, resilient, and I thought it was a really good effort," said Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein.
Michael Calderon had a career night for New Mexico with one goal and two assists. Calderon's insurance goal in the final minute of the game came after he picked up the assist on goals by James Rogers and Kyle Venter.
The Lobos came out on the attack as usual and kept the action on the Cavalier half of the field. Within the first six minutes, UNM had tallied three corner kicks and two shots on goal. The last of the three corners led to the first goal of the night.
"We have certain runs that we make, and I just decided I was going to try and get to the near post. It was a great ball played in by Michael Calderon, and I was fortunate enough to get my head on it. I'm glad I could make a difference early," Venter commented.
Venter's header was the only scoring action of the first half. The Lobos dominated the statistics in the first 45 minutes tallying fourteen shots to just four for Virginia. UNM also held an advantage in corner kicks 4-2.
The Cavaliers fought back in the second half and gave New Mexico an immediate answer. UVA freshman Matt Brown scored his first-career goal in the 48th minute off a Scott Thomsen assist to tie the game.
Coach Fishbein and company kept the pressure up and regained the lead just ten minutes later. Calderon, this time, set up James Rogers for a sliding left-footed goal after the junior drove through the UVA midfield and led Rogers with a pass from the top of the box. It was Calderon's second assist of the night and seventh of the season.
After UVA had several shots blocked by the New Mexico backline, New Mexico countered and picked up an insurance goal from Calderon himself. The midfielder forced a turnover at midfield and drove all alone to the edge of the box. A quick glance to his right at Devon Sandoval caused just enough hesitation from Virginia goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita. Calderon buried the goal himself with just 18 seconds left in regulation.
New Mexico, with a record of 17-3-1, ties the program's record for most wins in back-to-back seasons. The 2004 and 2005 Lobos recorded 35 wins, and UNM currently has 35 wins over the past two seasons with a match still to be played.
That match left to play will see thirteenth-seeded UNM advance to the Sweet 16 for a second consecutive season. They will travel to face #4 seed Connecticut on Sunday, November 25 at 1 p.m. (EST).