ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The University of New Mexico Lobos (1-2-0) came out in their home opener on Friday night with a 2-0 shutout over the visiting CSU Northridge Matadors (1-1-0) in the first round of the TLC Plumbing and Utility Invitational at the UNM Soccer Complex.
The victory marks the first for the Lobos this season after two close losses to ranked opponents to kick off 2016. Junior goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu earns his first shutout of the season while redshirt-freshman Devin Boyce scored his first collegiate goal for the 2-0 victory.
"What a great first half performance," head coach Jeremy Fishbein said. "We were fantastic the first 45 minutes. It was a good game, it flattened off at times but anytime you play a good team they're going to get a hold of the ball a bit. We're creating chances and the goals are going to come. This is a very good team and our confidence comes from our defending."
The Lobos kicked off their home opener with pressure, blasting three extremely close calls in just the first 10 minutes. Senior Niko Hansen, redshirt-freshman Tom Smart and junior Luke Lawrence each took a turn. All three well-placed shots were stopped by impressive maneuvers from CSUN keeper Kevin Marquez.
In the 23rd minute, Hansen put the Lobos on top with his first goal of the regular season after scoring four in three exhibition games in August. He dribbled past two defenders to clear a space and fired a strong shot into the far left side of the net for the 1-0 advantage.
"I was happy that Niko scored," said Fishbein. "Niko needed that goal and we need him to score goals. That was also a great goal from Devin Boyce, it was good to get that win and validate that we're the team we think we are."
UNM outshot CSU Northridge 9-1 in the first half including four shots on goal, none for CSUN. In addition, New Mexico held a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks throughout the first half and went into the locker room up by one.
In the first seven minutes of the second period, the Matadors worked hard to overcome the deficit, posting three corners in attempts to score. The Lobo defense held strong, however, as Beaulieu and the rest of the Lobos blocked all efforts toward the net.
In the 69th minute, senior Chris Wehan got another good look at Hansen, crossing the ball from the close right corner toward the left post, but the Matador defense knocked it away to keep them in the hunt for victory.
Just one minute later, Boyce gave the Lobos an insurance goal when he landed a shot from outside the box into the bottom left corner for his first collegiate goal. He maneuvered past two defenders after the Lobos won the ball high up in the field in transition for the 2-0 advantage.
"It was great to get my first fall season goal, and it was really big to come out and get two goals [in our first home game]," Boyce said. "It's an unbelievable feeling to score a goal, but I think it just makes me hungry to get the ball rolling and hopefully score a few more. It was awesome when Niko put that one away, it put everyone at ease a little bit and that just kept the ball rolling."
Boyce nearly got his second collegiate goal with just 15 minutes left on the clock when he launched a shot from the close left wing toward the bottom left corner, but another impressive save from Marquez thwarted the effort.
The Matadors followed with a close shot of their own off the foot of Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week Papi Diouf, but it went just wide as the Lobos held onto the shutout.
Overall, UNM outshot CSUN 14-5 including eight shots on goal to just two for the Matadors. Hansen led the team with three shots on goal, followed by Boyce with two. New Mexico also tallied seven corner kicks to CSUN's four and accumulated just three fouls on the night, the least they have posted all season.
In the net, Beaulieu totaled two saves to bring his season total to eight.
After just a day of rest, New Mexico will return to action on Sunday, Sept. 4 as they take on Cal Poly at 6 p.m. for the final came of the 2016 TLC Plumbing and Utility Invitational.
"I know we're going to be really excited to get back out there Sunday," Fishbein added. "The guys exerted a fair amount of energy today, but I think we'll be recovered for Sunday."