Nov. 11, 2007
The University of New Mexico men's soccer team trounced the San Jose State Spartans 5-1 on Senior Day at the UNM Soccer Complex. The Lobos scored five unanswered goals in the win, improving their record to 11-4-1 and 6-1-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. With the win, New Mexico retakes the lead in the MPSF race from Denver (9-4-3, 5-1-2 MPSF) and eliminates San Jose State (9-9-0, 4-5-0 MPSF) from contention for the league title.
The Lobos opened the game quickly with a shot by junior Jack Smithson just 21 seconds into the match that Spartan keeper Richard Mann had to save from going into the net. The Lobos, who have won four straight by a 12-3 goal differential over SJSU, may have gotten complacent in the early part of the game, allowing San Jose State to strike first in the match. Just 15 minutes into the game, Ismael Ibarra was left all alone in front of the Lobo net and put home his ninth goal of the season by Lobo senior keeper Mike Graczyk.
The 1-0 lead by San Jose State didn't wake up the Lobo defense because just two minutes later, Ibarra found himself 1-on-1 with Graczyk again in the box. Ibarra looked to put SJSU up 2-0, but Graczyk came up with one of his four great saves in the match.
UNM finally decided to show up the in the 26th minute, earning a free kick on the left side from 35 yards out. Junior Jack Smithson sent in a perfect bending cross that junior Chris Wright headed in for his 11th goal of the season, tying the score at 1-1. It was the fourth assist of the season for Smithson.
New Mexico took control for the rest of the half, outshooting SJSU 8-4 while earning a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks in the first frame. The score remained 1-1 at the break, but UNM was about to have its most productive 45 minutes of the season.
The Lobos took the lead in the 58th minute on a goal by sophomore Stephen Brown. Freshman Mike Reed and senior Diego Barrera started the play with a give-and-go down the left side. Barrera got the ball well into the Spartan side of the field before feeding Brown at the corner of the box. Brown turned and blasted a shot to the far post that Mann had no chance of getting, giving UNM a 2-1 lead. It was the first goal of the season for Brown, the seventh assist of the year for Barrera and the first career assist for Reed.
The Lobos struck again the in the 66th minute after a hard foul by the Spartans gave UNM a free kick on the end line near the right corner. Barrera stepped up and put a perfect cross into Wright who used his 6-5 frame to head the ball into the back of the net for his second score of the game. Wright now leads the MPSF in scoring and goals with 27 points on 12 strikes and three assists. He tallied four goals this weekend after netting a pair in a 3-0 win over Sacramento State on Friday night. With three assists on the weekend, Barrera now leads the MPSF with eight on the season.
New Mexico added to its lead in the 80th minute when sophomore P.J. Wilson beat most of the Spartans on his way to an unassisted goal. Wilson sliced up the San Jose State defense by himself, dribbling through four defenders and then beating the Spartan keeper before easily sliding in his fourth goal of the season.
UNM ended the scoring the 85th minute when Wilson again made a move into the box, but was hammered by a San Jose State player. As a result, the Lobos were given a penalty kick that was taken by Senior Blake Danaher. Danaher put in the shot for his second goal of the season.
The Lobos called off the dogs for the final five minutes. UNM actually earned a corner with four minutes left following a Spartan miscue. However, Danaher played the ball back instead of trying for another goal.
New Mexico still has to win its final two games of the season to lock up its fourth consecutive MPSF title. The Lobos travel to Air Force for a 7:00 p.m. (M.S.T.) game against the Falcons (4-11-1, 2-6-0 MPSF) on Friday, Nov. 16. The league title will likely go down to the final game of the season for the third year in a row when New Mexico takes on the second place Pioneers on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 1:00 p.m. in Denver, Colo.