BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alex Clay scored two goals and the Blazers totaled three for the sixth time this season as the UAB men’s soccer team defeated No. 15 New Mexico, 3-2 Wednesday night.
“I thought it was a great game,” head coach Mike Getman said. “I think it’s two of the best teams in the country, two of the best teams in the league. I thought we scored three fantastic goals and they came back and scored two really good goals themselves.”
New Mexico (10-4-1, 3-3 C-USA) entered the match 11th in the NCAA in shutout percentage with eight total shutouts on the year, and 10th in goals against average, allowing just 0.56 per game. The Blazers’ (9-5-1, 4-2 C-USA) 27th-ranked scoring offense put up three goals for the sixth this season and scored the most of any team against New Mexico since the C-USA Tournament in 2013 when they gave up three to Tulsa.
“I thought for 65 minutes we did exactly what we wanted to do,” Getman said. “The last 25 minutes got a little bit shaky, but our guys dug down and did everything they needed to on the defensive side and found a way to beat a very good team.”
The Blazers and Lobos didn’t waste any time out of the gate, as both teams were on the board within the first 10 minutes.
Clay posted his best offensive performance of the season, totaling two goals in the win. He struck in the third minute and again in the 57th when he converted on a penalty kick – his third converted penalty kick of the season.
Junior forward Freddy Ruiz added to his C-USA leading goal total with a score in the 24th minute. Lars Willemse dished the ball to Ruiz from the corner to net his ninth goal of the year and Willemse’s fourth assist of the season. The goal also moves Ruiz to a tie for eighth in the UAB scoring list, now with 23 in his Blazer career.
New Mexico’s Niko Hansen scored the Lobos’ first goal in the eighth minute and Chris Wehan totaled the second in the 73rd minute, both assisted by James Rogers.
As a team UAB put five of its eight shots on target, while New Mexico took 14 for eight on goal. UAB keeper Joe Kuzminsky totaled six saves in the win for the Blazers.
The Lobos entered the contest 15th in the NSCAA coaches poll, sixth in the Bennett Rankings, 17th in the NCAA RPI and 20th in the Soccer America poll. This marks the second time this season UAB has defeated a top-25 opponent.
The victory Wednesday also marks the first for UAB over New Mexico in series history. With the win, the Blazers officially clinched a berth in the C-USA Men’s Soccer Championship, set for Nov. 12-16 in Norfolk, Va.
UAB returns to the field on Saturday to close its home slate with a 7 p.m. match against Old Dominion in Senior Night at West Campus Field.