ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- After over an hour of lightening delay on Sunday night, the University of New Mexico men's soccer team claimed a 1-0 victory over the visiting Lopes of Grand Canyon at the UNM Soccer Complex. The shutout marks the fourth straight for the Lobos, ranking this year's squad tied for fifth in UNM history for most consecutive shutouts.
With the victory, the Lobos also claim the 2016 Grange and Ashwill Memorial Invitational title. Senior Niko Hansenscored the gamewinner in the 54th minute, his goal marks his second gamewinner of the tournament and his third goal of the season.
SEE HANSEN'S GAMEWINNING GOAL
"That was a mature performance tonight," head coach Jeremy Fishbein said. "It was a great goal by Niko Hansen and we also had some really good play by our back four. These guys were coming off of a 110 minute match on Friday so they showed a lot of heart and a high level of fitness. I was really proud of that."
Four Lobos were named to the All-Tournament Team including Hansen, redshirt-freshman Tom Smart, juniorJason Beaulieu and senior Chris Gurule. Hansen was tabbed Offensive Most Valuable Player as well as the tournament's overall Most Valuable Player while Smart earned Defensive Most Valuable Player honors.
The Lobos (4-2-0) got out to a quick start on Sunday night when, in just the fourth minute, junior Sam Gleadle beat out the Lopes (2-3-0) defenders and sent a swift pass to Hansen on the close right wing, but the pass went just past Hansen to keep the score 0-0.
Grand Canyon threatened in the 10th minute when Niki Jackson drew Lobo junior keeper Jason Beaulieu out of the box and blasted a shot from the right side. Beaulieu picked up on the shot, however and collected the ball in the box before it could cross the line for his first of several outstanding saves on the night.
Beaulieu once again demonstrated great athleticism with 7:53 left in the first half when GCU's Austin Day took a shot in the box off of a Lope corner kick. He shot from point-blank range, but an outstanding maneuver by Beaulieu to dive on the ball once again prevented the Grand Canyon score.
UNM had several close calls in the first half including one by sophomore Aaron Herrera from the right wing that nearly found the bottom left corner of the net, as well as rapid fire shots in the 29th minute that required exceptional saves by Lope keeper Kendyl Day. Senior Chris Wehan belted one toward the center of the net that Day saved with a one-foot dive before junior Luke Lawrence followed up with another that went just wide.
New Mexico led in shots 11-9 after the first period while the squads were tied at two corner kicks apiece. The Lobos also posted four shots on goal compared to two for GCU.
In the second half, the Lobos continued to put pressure on the Lopes and in the 55th minute, Hansen netted his third goal of the season when he dribbled past two defenders and shot left in the box, deflecting the ball off of a GCU defender to land in the bottom right corner of the net, giving the Lobos a 1-0 advantage.
"We battled this one out," Hansen said. "It was a rough first half, I think, and it was just getting used to the field a little bit but in the end we got the goal and we got the win so it was good for us…Hopefully we keep that going. This was the last of the two game weekend so we'll get to go into games more fresh and find that rhythm a little better and not as tired."
With just over one minute left to play in regulation, Grand Canyon nearly tied the game on a hard shot to the top of the net by Alexandros Halis, but Beaulieu lunged and punched the ball over the crossbar to preserve the shutout for New Mexico.
Overall, the Lobos tied the Lopes with 15 shots on the day including a 7-4 shot on goal advantage. GCU, however, held the edge in corner kicks, 5-2.
With the victory, Beaulieu earns his fourth straight shutout and improves to 4-2-0 on the season while Day falls to 2-3-0. Beaulieu posted four clutch saves compared to six for Day.
Also, Beaulieu now posts a 0.32 goals against average on the season notching 17 saves in nearly 560 minutes and a .895 save percentage.
After their four-game home stand, the Lobos hit the road on Saturday, Sept. 17 when they travel to UC Irvine for a 9 p.m. (MT) matchup.
2016 Grange and Ashwill Memorial All-Tournament Team:
GK – Jason Beaulieu (UNM)
D – Tom Smart (UNM)
D – Jeremie Charron (CSUB)
D – Hector Montalvo (GCU)
D – Jamie Carey-Morrelle (CSUB)
M – Mike Lightbourne (MSU)
M – Khadim Seye (GCU)
M – Chris Gurule (UNM)
M – Jack Griffin (MSU)
F – Niko Hansen (UNM)
F – Niki Jackson (GCU)
Offensive Most Valuable Player – Niko Hansen
Defensive Most Valuable Player – Tom Smart
Tournament Most Valuable Player – Niko Hansen