ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico men's soccer team punched its ticket to the Conference USA Tournament with a 3-0 win over visiting Florida Atlantic Friday night thanks to three goals in the second half.
"Our second half was great," UNM head coachJeremy Fishbein said. "I was really happy with our performance. It was important for the guys to score some goals and go into the conference tournament on a positive note."
Rochowski scored his second of the season in the 72nd minute when Josh Goss' corner kick, one of 11 in the match for the Lobos, found him at the back post, and the junior center back kind of just bodied it into the net.
"It was a big relief getting that first goal," Rochowski said. "It was a huge weight off our shoulders because it was a step in the right direction. And after that first goal we had a lot of confidence to keep going and keep pushing."
That's exactly what the Lobos did as barely more than four minutes later Casucci doubled the lead. He took a nice feed from Hansen who had won the ball inside the box near the end line. Hansen fed Casucci at the near post and the freshman went far post for his fourth of the season.
Hansen then finished the scoring in the 86th minute. Chris Wehan let loose a shot that was blocked right to Hansen's feet. The junior, who had already hit both the crossbar and the post, let loose a rocket that hit the underside of the crossbar and went in.
Hansen was a handful for the Owls all game as he was a constant threat down the right side, especially in the second half. He was consistently able to beat his marker to create chances in front of goal and force FAU to play on its heels a bit.
Defensively for UNM, Jason Beaulieu made two saves in the first half to earn his fourth shutout of the season.
"We put ourselves back in the mix for an at-large berth (to the NCAA Tournament)," Fishbein said, "and that's where we want to be: in the postseason."
The Lobos' opponent in the conference tournament will be decided on Saturday as the rest of C-USA finishes league play. UNM will likely face either Charlotte or South Carolina, but that is yet to be determined.
"All we can do now is look forward to the next game," Fishbein said. "You know you're going to get a good opponent, but we have good energy and we're healthy. So we're going to enjoy this one and look forward to the next one."
New Mexico (71:53): Rochowski (Goss)
New Mexico (76:00): Casucci (Hansen)
New Mexico (85:25): Hansen (Wehan)
New Mexico: Rochowski, yellow (41:41); Dye, yellow (86:50)
FAU: Ludvik, yellow (41:41); Fuster, yellow (61:23); Gallitz, yellow (86:50)
FAU: Hitpass (GK), Fuster, Whittaker, Ludvik, Laraneto, McCorkle, Fitzgerald, Quinn, Adejunmobi, Gallitz, Darby
New Mexico: Beaulieu (GK), Mora Delgado, Rochowski, Goss, Hansen, Khouri, Wehan, Gurule, Herrera, Dye, Kajermo
UNM's opponent in the Conference USA Tournament will be decided Saturday, Nov. 7. The Lobos will open play on Wednesday, Nov. 11.