DENVER, Colo. - The ninth-ranked University of New Mexico men's soccer team was hungry for a bounce-back win after their second loss within a week at Air Force on Friday night. New Mexico got what they were after with a 2-0 victory at Denver University (6-4-3) on Sunday afternoon.
"It's a good response to Friday, but I've still got a pretty bad taste in my mouth from Friday's loss to Air Force. We went 1-1 on the weekend, and that's not good enough. I thought we made some good adjustments to how we were playing, which was a positive today," commented Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein.
It was the usual suspects of the Lobos attacking players who were involved in the pair of second-half goals. UNM got on the board with a James Rogers goal off a picturesque lead pass by Blake Smith in the 50th minute. Rogers would make a pass from the seat of his pants to Devon Sandoval for the Lobos' second goal twenty-one minutes later.
The match took an expected defensive tone as the game opened with eleven minutes without a shot being taken. That first shot, off the leg of Michael Calderon, would sail high as he attempted to sneak a long shot over the head of Denver goalkeeper Oliver Brown.
Three minutes later, UNM came knocking on the door again as Devon Sandoval received a pass on a breakaway. Brown saved his shot, and one of Brown's defenders saved a James Rogers shot off the rebound.
After a Josh Wren shot hit the crossbar over a diving Victor Rodriguez, the Lobos settled down and dominated possession for the final ten minutes of the half. However, it was a bit of a frustrating end to the half. A frenzy of shots and crosses into the Denver box were bit array, and New Mexico would miss on another good opportunity.
A string of combination passes found Devon Sandoval just outside the box. Sandoval flicked the ball over a pair of DU defenders to a jumping Lawrence Robledo. Robeldo, with a defender at his back, was forced to take a hurried touch and his shot missed high on an open net because of it.
The Lobos would get things right in the first five minutes of the second half. A textbook counter attack saw Blake Smith drive the ball down the middle of the field. Smith slipped in a pinpoint lead pass to James Rogers that rolled by a sliding Pioneer defender. The pass gave Rogers the ball at the far post and the sophomore calmly buried his fifth goal of the season.
The Lobos continued to apply the pressure, and their effort paid off in the 71st minute. A pass found James Rogers just inside the box. As Rogers attempted to gather he would go down to the ground. The sophomore retained possession and passed as he was in a sitting position. He passed to his right and found the foot of Devon Sandoval who blasted the game's second goal home.
The New Mexico defense had a pair of late-game breakdowns that forced two Victor Rodriguez saves in the final minutes. The two late saves were part of a five-save afternoon for the senior keeper. They were the only miscues for the UNM backline that was especially stout during the second half.
Statistically the match was pretty even. New Mexico held the advantage in shots at 14-12, but Denver would hold the edge in corner kicks four to three.
The Lobos gave the Pioneers their first loss at CIBER Field this season. The victory also gives New Mexico their ninth season of ten wins or more since 2002.
"We got the shutout even though we meddled around at times. Yet, this was a win that had to happen," said Coach Fishbein.
The victory pushes the New Mexico record to 10-3-0 (3-2-0 MPSF) as they approach the home stretch of the 2012 season. The Lobos will return home for two more home matches. They will host UNLV on Friday, October 19th at 7 p.m. UNM will then host Cal State Bakersfield at 1 p.m. on Sunday, October 21st. Both matches at the UNM Soccer Complex will be double headers with the New Mexico women's soccer team.