Sept. 11, 2011
Albuquerque, N.M. --- There are 90 minutes in a regulation soccer match. Ninety minutes allotted for two teams to pit their offenses against one another in a head-to-head battle, with the simple goal of putting enough points on the board to claim victory.
The Lobos only needed a minute and a half on Sunday.
Just a minute and 37 seconds, to be exact, was all that was needed for the Lobos to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 victory over the Matadors of Cal State Northridge.
The come-from-behind win in the final game of the 2011 TLC Invitational left the Lobos with the championship title and, more importantly, an undefeated record heading into their next road trip.
New Mexico had possession of the ball for the majority of the game and controlled the pace throughout, but it was Cal State Northridge that found the back of the net first in the 35th minute of play. Gustavo Villalobos ripped a shot from outside of the box to beat Lobo keeper Victor Rodriguez and give CSUN the 1-0 lead headed into the half.
Patient is the only word that can describe the Lobo attack over the course of the rest of the game. New Mexico was so patient in fact, that fans may have started to wonder, with just over six minutes left in the game and UNM moving the ball around their backfield, exactly how the Lobos planned to remain unbeaten after this weekend.
True Lobo fans know though, that New Mexico is never out of the game. True Lobo fans also know that they can always expect the unexpected from their team, and the unexpected is exactly what they got.
It came in the form of defender Kyle Venter's first goal of the season, a corner kick clean-up to wipe the slate clean with a tie score of 1-1 in the 84th minute of play.
The home crowd was so ecstatic that some of them might have missed the next big event - being that it came a mere 50 seconds later when freshman James Rogers connected with Devon Sandoval in the Matador box. Sandoval's low shot worked as the game winner for UNM. It beat keeper Michael Abalos to the back of the net and gave UNM the 2-1 edge with 5:24 left to play.
You can't stop momentum when it strikes, especially when it strikes big. Another 47 seconds went by before Rogers worked his magic again, picking up a pass from Carson Baldinger in transition and carrying it up-field before laying it off to a ready-and-waiting Blake Smith. Smith controlled the pass with one touch before punching it past Abalos to secure the 3-1 win for New Mexico.
"This was a great game, I mean, I thought we controlled the ball well throughout, and they capitalized on a great opportunity early, but I'm really proud of our guys for staying in it," head coach Jeremy Fishbein said. "We couldn't have asked for a more exciting finish."
They also couldn't have asked for more momentum heading into this coming week. The team will hit the road on Thursday for Akron, Ohio, where they'll take on the defending national champions in the Zips on Friday at 5 p.m. mountain time.
"This actually sets up really nicely for us," Fishbein continued. "This week we're going to Akron, defending national champs, and that's going to be a huge game for us. We couldn't ask for more momentum going our way."
Friday's match-up will be shown nationally on the Fox Soccer Channel and is game one for the Lobos in the University of Akron Tournament. They'll cap off the weekend playing the Syracuse Orange on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Four members of the Lobo team were named to the 2011 TLC Invitational all-tournament team. Sandoval picked up all-tournament honors as well as the Offensive MVP award, while Venter was named Defensive MVP. Rogers and Smith were also both named to the team.