ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The No. 10 UAB men’s soccer team suffered a 4-3 setback at the hands of Conference USA foe New Mexico on Wednesday night. New Mexico converted on a penalty kick with seven seconds remaining in regulation to secure the home victory.
“I thought we played poorly for most of this match against a very good team,” head coach Mike Getman said. “And yet, we scored three goals; two of them were great goals. We were down late, worked hard. The last 15 minutes, I thought we played quite well. I was confident we would win the game."
New Mexico (9-4-2, 5-1-1) was the aggressor early in the match. Senior goalkeeper Raphael Ville came up big in that stretch, recording four saves, including one point blank save on a great attempt by New Mexico sophomore midfielder Ben McKendry.
UAB (11-3-1, 4-2-1) seized the momentum in the 22nd minute, pushing ahead on its first shot of the night. Sophomore forward Freddy Ruiz drove from off the end line and buried a shot past senior goalkeeper Michael Lisch. It marked Ruiz’s 11th goal of the season, which leads Conference USA.
Not even two minutes later, UAB extended its advantage to 2-0. Redshirt junior midfielder Alex Clay snared a pass from New Mexico’s backline. Clay then fired the stolen ball past Lisch into the lower right corner of the Lobos’ goal.
The host-Lobos would not give up so easily, though. In the 40th minute, redshirt junior defender Riley McGovern put New Mexico within striking distance with his third goal of the year. 77 seconds later, freshman forward Niko Hansen one-timed a pass from McGovern to tie the match at 2-2.
Each team was looking to surge ahead in the second half. Hansen had a great opportunity early in the second stanza, but sophomore defender Ian Svantesson booted the ball out of the net to keep the match tied.
In the 81st minute, New Mexico got the go-ahead goal it was looking for. McKendry put the ball towards the far post and Ville could not make the save, despite a diving effort.
UAB would not go away so silently, though. Redshirt sophomore forward Karl Chester played a ball to Clay inside the New Mexico box in the 89th minute. Clay collected the pass and placed a beautiful shot into the top right corner to tie the match at 3-3.
It appeared the match was destined for overtime, but with seven seconds remaining Ville drew a red card, setting up a New Mexico penalty kick. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky checked into the match for Ville, with the game on the line. New Mexico senior midfielder Michael Calderon set up for the penalty kick. Calderon slotted the ball into the lower left corner past a diving Kuzminsky to secure the victory for the Lobos.
“The story tonight is we made big mistakes,” concluded Getman. “If you want to win the big games, you don’t get to make mistakes like we made.”
UAB returns to the pitch on Sunday, Nov. 3 when it hosts South Carolina on Senior Day. Admission is free to the game. The match will begin at 2 p.m. at West Campus Field.
Notes: Sophomore forward Freddy Ruiz tallied his 11th goal of 2013, which leads Conference USA … Redshirt junior midfielder Alex Clay tallied a career-best two goals at New Mexico … Redshirt sophomore forward Karl Chester recorded his second assist in the past three matches against the Lobos … Senior goalkeeper Raphael Ville tallied a season-best seven saves on the night … Tonight’s match marked the first time UAB had been tied at half since Wednesday, Oct. 16 against FIU.