ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The seventh-ranked New Mexico men's soccer team recorded its fourth win of the season with a 3-2 win over Dartmouth (2-3-0) in a wild affair on Friday night. It was the opening day of the 2012 TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Lobo Invitational. The game opened with a frenetic scoring pace that saw each side score within the first three minutes of the game.
The match's scoring action featured four of its five goals scored within the first 17 minutes of the game. With a frenzied crowd of 4,017 fans in attendance at the UNM Soccer Complex, the pace of play was elevated by the crowd's energy.
"The guys were good today, and they played with a lot of quality. However, there's a good lesson to be learned that we have to connect, we have to execute, we have to be focused and we can't give up soft goals," observed Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein after the game.
For the third time in the first five games of the 2012 season, New Mexico's opponent scored first. A clearance attempt from the UNM backline fell to Dartmouth's Alex Adelabu. The sophomore headed the ball to himself in the box, which drew Lobo goalkeeper Victor Rodriguez out. Adelabu gathered at the near post off his own header and buried the easy goal less than 90 seconds into the match.
New Mexico's equalizer would come a minute later courtesy of the Lobos' leading scorer, Devon Sandoval. Levi Ross triggered the scoring action with a throw-in, which found the head of Michael Kafari who flicked it deeper into the box. The ball would graze the Dartmouth keeper before traveling back to the middle of the box where Sandoval fired it into the back of the box.
The match stayed tied for only seven and a half minutes before the Big Green of Dartmouth regained the lead with Adelabu's second goal of the game off a deep run from Colin Heffron. Heffron drove deep into the box before finding Adelabu for the goal.
The visitors' one-goal advantage held for just under eight minutes before UNM tallied their second game-tying goal of the game. Junior Michael Calderon used his first career goal in a Lobo uniform to knot the game up at two goals apiece. Calderon's goal was assisted by James Rogers who beat a Big Green defender one-on-one on the right flank before finding the junior midfielder for the goal from 16 yards out.
After four goals in less than twenty minutes, the game settled down. The scoring action slowed down as the two teams went into the half tied 2-2. This came despite UNM holding a twelve to four shot advantage.
However, it wouldn't take long for the Lobos to get their game-winning goal in the second half on another first career goal. Freshman Ben McKendry finished off a Blake Smith lead pass from point-blank range for his first-ever goal in a UNM uniform in the 67th minute.
"I was in front of the net. I just closed my eyes and hoped it went in. It's something I'll remember for the rest of my life, and hopefully there's more to come," McKendry commented.
The Lobos took the air out of the Dartmouth attack by possessing the ball for long stretches of time. New Mexico regularly connected on strings of eight to ten passes throughout the final 23 minutes of regulation.
New Mexico used their possession to continue to out-shoot Dartmouth in the second half. By match's end, the Lobos held a 20-8 advantage in that category. Of their 20 shots, UNM forced saves from Dartmouth's Noah Cohen five times.
"It's too easy to focus on the two miscues, and that doesn't do us any good. Let's focus on the positives. We generated a lot of attacks, were dangerous on our set pieces, our ball speed was good and we were exciting... I think will learn from this and be better on Sunday," Coach Fishbein noted.
The win was the third consecutive and fourth of the season for Coach Fishbein and company. Friday night's victory also pushed New Mexico's regular season home-unbeaten streak to 14 games, which ties the second longest streak in program history. The program's previous 14-game unbeaten streak at home came during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
New Mexico will go into Sunday's match-up with UC Irvine with a mark of 3-1. The match with the Anteaters is at 1 p.m. in the final action of the 2012 TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Lobo Invitational. It will be part of a doubleheader with the UNM women's team, who plays New Mexico State, at 4 p.m. at the UNM Soccer Complex.