ALBUQUERQUE,N.M. – For the second straight match the 15th-ranked University of New Mexico men’s soccer team got off to a quick start, scoring less than a minute into its match with Florida International in front of 2,762 fans Saturday night at the UNM Soccer Complex.
Chris Gurule played a truly world-class ball about 40 yards in the air to Niko Hansen. Hansen’s first touch was perfect, and his second was even better as he slid it past the keeper to give UNM a 1-0 lead just 43 seconds in.
“We wanted to come out firing and put some pressure on them,” Gurule said. “I was trying to put (the ball) into a good area. I knew Niko would be in a good spot. I was trying to relieve a little bit of pressure. It was a fortunate ball, and Niko did great work to put it in the back of the net.”
That would be all the offense the Lobos (7-2-1, 1-1-0) would need as they won their first Conference USA game of the season.
“Today was a pretty mature performance,” head coach Jeremy Fishbein said. “Great goal to open the game. (It was) a pretty fantastic goal.”
Kevin Correa added UNM’s second goal with just 41 seconds remaining on a superb individual effort. He took a header from Gurule and proceeded to go on a terrific run through the Golden Panthers’ defense that ended with the ball in the back of the net.
“It was just one of those moments,” Correa said. “I saw the space, and instead of taking it to the corner like I should have, I attacked.”
It was Correa’s second goal of the week after not registering a single one over UNM’s first eight contests. The Preseason All-American and MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List honoree finally seems to be finding his groove with the Lobos.
“The past week has been much better,” he said. “I’m finally getting used to the way we play.”
The match was chippy throughout, with FIU (3-5-1, 0-2-0) being called for 14 fouls, three yellows and a red card in the 44th minute. The Lobos didn’t rise to the bait, though, and played their game to earn their second win of the week.
“We’re in a good place right now,” Fishbein said. “We have a lot of confidence. Our ball speed was good. Our quality was good. Now we get three days off before getting back on the field against Florida Atlantic.”
New Mexico (00:43): Hansen (Gurule)
New Mexico (89:19): Correa (Gurule)
Florida International: Midttun, yellow (22:56,); Tomlinson, yellow (37:41); Milsaint, red (43:26)
UNM: Correa, yellow (43:09)
New Mexico: Beaulieu (GK), Gibbons, McGovern, Miele, McKendry, Rogers, Hansen, Wehan, Gurule, Dye, Goss
Florida International: Mitchell (GK), McFarlane, Sibiski, Hezel, Milsaint, Gonzalez, Betancur, Nembhard, Alterio, Midttun, Tomlinson
UNM travels to face Florida Atlantic next Wednesday at 5 p.m. MT in another Conference USA matchup.