ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It wasn’t easy, but the sixth-ranked New Mexico soccer team found a way to win its opening game of the Grange & Ashwill Memorial Tournament. The Lobos had to withstand an early goal on a penalty and a late second yellow card to their keeper, but goals from Chris Wehan and Josh Goss gave UNM a 2-1 victory over UC Riverside in front of 2,180 fans Friday night.
Things got interesting very early for New Mexico when keeper Patrick Poblete was called for a foul and given a yellow card for going for a loose ball in the box. It was just the start of a foul-filled and physical game. The Highlanders converted the ensuing penalty to take an early 1-0 lead.
It didn’t last long, though, as the Lobos drew even a mere six minutes later. Chris Wehan fed James Rogers on the far side of the box and cut to the net. Rogers found the streaking sophomore on a perfectly executed give-and-go, and Wehan deftly volleyed it home to tie the game.
The Lobos dominated the shot chart in the first half, piling up 14 to Riverside’s two. UNM forced the Highlanders’ keeper, Ashkan Khosravi, to make five saves in the first 45 minutes.
The second half started much slower, though, as neither team registered a shot for over 15 minutes. The Lobos settled in and started generating chances.
Mathew Gibbons streaked down the left side and nearly put a cross passed Khosravi, but the keeper made an outstanding save to keep the game level. UNM had another opportunity four minutes later, though, and this time, the Lobos took advantage.
Niko Hansen received a pass on the near touchline and outmuscled his defender to keep the ball. He poked it toward the end line and raced after it. He crossed it beautifully into the box and found Josh Goss. The sophomore connected and would have scored if not for a diving kick save by Khosravi. The rebound came straight back to Goss, though, and this time he made no mistake. He powered it into the net for the decisive goal.
The entertainment didn’t end there, however. A total of seven yellow cards were handed out, three of which came after Goss’ goal. One of them came to Poblete as he was preparing to deliver a goal kick with 5:30 left. The referee deemed he was deliberately wasting time, though, and showed him his second yellow of the match. That brought on freshman Jason Beaulieu for his first collegiate action.
But the Montreal native wasn’t asked to make a save as New Mexico mostly maintained possession and ran out the clock. UNM finished the match with a 19-6 advantage in shots.
UC Riverside (5:41): Earle (PK)
New Mexico (11:47): Wehan (Rogers)
New Mexico (68:06): Goss
UC Riverside: Eric Gonzalez (51:30, YC), Michael Salazar (67:52, YC), Jacob Arrieta (72:43, YC), Philipp Dominique (85:11, YC)
New Mexico: Patrick Poblete (5:41, YC), Oniel Fisher (50:52, YC), Patrick Poblete (84:30, YC), Patrick Poblete (84:30, RC)
New Mexico: Poblete (GK), Gibbons, McGovern, Miele, Rogers, Correa, Fisher, Wehan, Gurule, Dye, Goss
UC Riverside: Khosravi (GK), Alewine, Earle, Copley, Salazar, Arrieta, Tovar, Miguel, Lomeli, Romo, Gonzalez
“I thought we adapted well. We dealt with some adversity. Our guys quickly adjusted, which I thought was a positive. … I thought we were extremely good in the first half. We were really sharp, but then we didn’t find that second goal until late. (UC Riverside) made it difficult. They played off the ball. They played off second (chances). They have a couple of real quality players. … I was really proud of the guys. I think our focus was on today’s game. We had respect for our opponent. … It was a hard-fought win.” – UNM head coach Jeremy Fishbein’s overall thoughts on the game
“We’re not going to miss a beat. We have another great keeper in Jason Beaulieu. It’s unfortunate, but I think these are the kind of things that prove very valuable as the season progresses. I just wish it hadn’t come to that.” – Fishbein on Poblete’s red card
“It was all James. I can’t give him enough credit. I gave him the ball wide and he did the rest. I was just able to get a good touch on it.” – Chris Wehan on his goal
“(Jason) is great. He’s going to come in and replace Patrick really well. We trust him. He’s played on some very good (MLS) Academy teams. We trust him. He’ll do fine.” – Goss on Beaulieu starting Sunday’s match
“UCLA will be very good Sunday night. … I think they’ll be extremely good on Sunday. I think it will be two very good teams. I think it’s going to be good soccer. I hope the energy level high. It’s going to be a great one.” – Fishbein on UNM’s game vs. No. 1 UCLA Sunday night
The Lobos wrap up the Grange & Ashwill Memorial Tournament against No. 1 UCLA at 6 p.m. Sunday. The Bruins lost Friday afternoon to American 2-1 in overtime.