ALBUQUERQUE,N.M. – The 15th-ranked University of New Mexico men’s soccer team broke out of its goal-scoring slump in a big way Wednesday night versus West Virginia. With the help of a red card issued to the Mountaineers just 16 seconds in, the Lobos piled up 22 shots en route to a 6-1 victory in front 1,926 fans at the UNM Soccer Complex.
The Lobos were shut out for the first time all season Friday at Charlotte and were determined to put that performance behind them. They did in a big way.
“For the last three days we’ve been on edge to get this game started,” said Chris Wehan, who finished with a goal and an assist. “When it did get started it couldn’t have gone any better.”
Right off the opening kick Nick Miele played a deep ball down the right side. The ball eventually found its way to Niko Hansen’s foot, and he let loose with a rocket that struck WVU’s Francio Henry’s hand in the box. A red card was issued, Ben McKendry converted the penalty and the Lobos were off and running.
“We were fortunate how things played out,” UNM head coach Jeremy Fishbein said. “We were ready to go today. The mentality was right. Was the score truly indicative of how the game was played? We were a man up … and you never wish that on anybody because we could be on the other foot. But I thought we took advantage of things. We did a lot of things really well.”
UNM hit a slight lull when a defensive miscue allowed the Mountaineers to tie the game in the 18th minute, but Hansen put the Lobos on top to stay a little over five minutes later off a nice through ball from Wehan.
In the 35th minute Wehan was the beneficiary of a nice pass from James Rogers to make the score 3-1, and in the 38th minute Kevin Correa scored his first goal as a Lobo. Mathew Gibbons deftly chipped the ball to him at the edge of the box. Correa outworked his defender and took the ball near the goal line on the near side of the box. His shot from an impossible angle beat the keeper and made it 4-1 at the half.
The Lobos didn’t let up as they added two more in the second half. Riley McGovern scored his first of the season in the 63rd minute, and McKendry added his second of the match just two minutes later. Freshman Sam Gleadle assisted on both.
“It was a great reward for the guys,” said Fishbein. “I think it was a relief. It was great to see Kevin score and Ben get a couple. I’m happy for them.”
The Lobos had only scored 10 goals in eight matches coming in, but they seemed to find their finishing touch against the undermanned Mountaineers.
“This was an important one to get under our belt,” Fishbein said. “We’re even more excited no for (our next match on) Saturday. Florida International is a quality team that we have here at home. It’s a conference game. … We’re excited to move forward. (This win) gives us confidence, and we came out of his healthy.”
New Mexico (00:16): McKendry (PEN)
West Virginia (17:10): Cain
New Mexico (22:42): Hansen (Wehan)
New Mexico (34:34): Wehan (Rogers)
New Mexico (37:36): Correa (Gibbons)
New Mexico (62:02): McGovern (Gleadle)
New Mexico (64:06): McKendry (Gleadle)
West Virginia: Henry, red (0:16)
UNM: Hansen, yellow (9:47)
New Mexico: Poblete (GK), Gibbons, McGovern, Miele, McKendry, Rogers, Hansen, Wehan, Gurule, Dye, Goss
West Virginia: Johnston (GK), Henry, Ochoa, Elliott, Diaz, Bevin, Cain, Arslan, Merriam, Piatczyc, Thomas
UNM returns to Conference USA action with a home match Saturday at 7 p.m. against Florida International.