NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – The eighth-ranked University of New Mexico men’s soccer team held on for a grueling 1-0 victory at the CSUN Matadors Friday night. Chris Wehan’s goal in the 19th minute proved to be the winner as the Lobos withstood heavy second-half pressure to earn a hard-fought victory.
The Lobos (3-1-0) dominated play throughout most of the first half, but were only able to solve the CSUN (2-3-0) defense once. In the 19th minute, a cross was deflected by the Matadors and lingered near the top of the box. Wehan was the first to it and the sophomore curled it into the net for his second goal of the season.
The Lobos looked to add to their lead in the 39th minute as Josh Goss’ ball found Ben McKendry alone behind the defense, but the flag was up and play was blown dead.
Freshman Jason Beaulieu, making his second straight start in goal for a slightly banged up Patrick Poblete, was phenomenal in the first half, playing every ball perfectly, despite not having to make a save.
"The first half was fantastic," head coach Jeremy Fishbein said. "It was some of the best college soccer I’ve ever seen. We played in their half. We connected passes. We squeezed the field. We didn’t let them get anything going. Wehan scored a great goal and we didn’t give them any chances, but when you let a decent team stay in the game, they’re going to get their chances."
In the second half Niko Hansen had a great chance in the 50th minute. He dispossessed his defender and was in one-on-one with the keeper, but his shot deflected off the near post and was out for a goal kick.
The Matadors came out determined in the second half, though, and they fed off their fans in their home opener. They applied constant pressure to UNM’s backline but were unable to break Beaulieu. One of their best chances came off a corner in the 69th minute, but Chris Gurule cleared the ball away from the goal line and out of danger.
Sam Gleadle and Josh Goss subbed in just before the 75:00 mark, and they helped relieve the pressure. It was temporary, though, as the Matadors had a great chance with just under 10 minutes to go.
They had a shot inside the box blocked, and then one of their players went down as they screamed for a penalty. The referee disagreed, however, and the Lobos were able to clear.
With under five minutes to play CSUN had a couple more chances, but one shot attempt was blocked by Gurule, and the rebound to the top of the box was put well high.
"We managed the game well," Fishbein said. "They started playing off big balls in the second half and made it more of a war than a soccer game. We handled it well. It was a tough environment. It was their home opener and it was a hostile crowd. I’m proud of the guys."
UNM withstood all remaining attempts and escaped with the victory. Beaulieu finished with two saves to earn his first career win.
"Jason had an excellent performance for the most part," said Fishbein. "He complicated things a bit a couple times, but all in all it was a great performance. And he’s going to get better and better. I’m really comfortable with all three of our keepers. I think we’re in a great place in net."
New Mexico (18:50): Wehan
New Mexico: Gibbons (86:31)
New Mexico: Beaulieu (GK), Gibbons, McGovern, Miele, Rogers, Correa, Fisher, Wehan, Gurule, Dye
Northridge: Hobbs (GK), Robinson, Giron, Rivas, Steffes, Camacho, Samayoa, Lev-Ari, Morley, Hickman, Turcios
The Lobos conclude the road trip with a match at San Diego on Sunday at 6 p.m. (MT).