Oct. 7, 2009
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
You could say it was a night of the longest and the shortest - and no doubt the saddest.
The Lobos had the longest player on the field in 6-foot-5 Simon Ejdemyr. The Cal-Irvine Anteaters had the shortest in 5-foot-5 Irving Garcia. Unfortunately, the short Anteater wedged two goals around the tall Lobos' one and the New Mexico got the short end of the score, 2-1 in overtime.
"It's a pretty painful loss," said Lobo Coach Jeremy Fishbein, glancing over at a bench full of sad Lobos.
Said Ejdemyr: "This was maybe the toughest loss I've ever had here."
The Lobos and the Anteaters warred like two talented and deep teams probably destined for NCAA postseason play. But Fishbein says Wednesday night's loss at the UNM Soccer Complex puts some additional pressure on his team the rest of the way in - which is all Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) play.
Fishbein said a win over the highly regarded Anteaters might have nudged the Lobos RPI high enough where an NCAA at-large bid might have been a lock with a solid finish in MPSF play.
There is less room for error now.
"There is a little bit more pressure on us now and we have to embrace that pressure and take care of business," said Fishbein.
The Lobos faced a heap of pressure Wednesday night as Garcia put the Anteaters up 1-0 with an acrobatic goal in front of the Lobos' keep at the 81:38 mark in the second half. That left UNM eight minutes and 22 seconds to score.
The Anteaters got a long throw-in from the East side of the complex. The ball was deflected to Garcia, who did a power pivot and rocketed the ball toward UNM keeper Justin Fife. The Lobo got a little bit of glove on the kick, but never had a fair chance.
The Anteaters probably went soft on offense too soon and didn't do a good job in clearing the ball out of their side of the field. They paid for it at the 85:30 mark when Justin Davis launched a throw-in at the pack muscling in front of the Anteater net.
Ejdemyr, a Lobo known for using his head, soared above the crowd and flicked a header backward at the Irvine net. It went in.
"It was a long throw from J.D. and I just kind of flicked it backwards," he said. "I was just trying to find good position and use my height to my advantage. That time it worked.
"Right now, we are just all disappointed in the loss. We set a goal to win seven games in non-conference and we needed this win to accomplish that. Now we have to move on to other goals and into the conference. We know it's not the end of the world, but it kind of hurts right now."
The Lobos got off 12 shots in regulation and Irvine launched 18.. UNM had five shots-on-goal to four for the Anteaters.
"We talked before the game about creating good chances and were we going to finish them?" said Fishbein. "We had two one-on-ones and probably had four great chances to finish goals. We didn't finish.
"They have a special player. We knew that Irving Garcia was a special player and he won them the game."
Garcia got his game-winner in overtime after getting a great break on the ball at midfield, avoiding the off-side call, and streaking down on Fite.
Garcia had a sweet looking one-on-one chance, but lost his rhythm and had to pull up. He then put a move on a Lobo defender and launched a shot high over Fite's head. The ball careened off the top bar and skidded into the hole.
"He hit a beautiful shot and had a good finish," said Fishbein.
The loss dropped UNM to 6-4-0 on the year while Cal-Irvine raised its mark to 7-4-0. The Lobos' next game is Oct. 16 at home vs. Seattle. That opens UNM's seven-game MPSF schedule.
The first half was a scoreless affair between two talented teams bending a bit on defense and not finishing on offense. Both teams found some cracks in the defense and had good chances.
The Lobos had three excellent goal chances, but two breakaway bullets off the toes of Davis and Stephen Brown went hard into the body of the Irvine keeper and bounced harmlessly into the shots-attempted category.
The Lobos also had a loose ball bouncing in front of the Irvine net with 2:50 to go in regulation and the Irvine goalie on the grass. The Irvine back line came to the rescue and cleared the ball away.
In the second half, the Lobos almost got another goal on a Davis' breakaway that was thwarted by the Anteater defense. Another good look came off the toe of Michael Reed on a free kick. His shot was jetting toward the far, upper corner of the Irvine goal, but ran into the fist of the high-jumping keeper, Victor Chinchilla.
"The storyline is we didn't finish good opportunities early on, left that team in it, and gave them chances," said Fishbein. "It's a pretty painful loss."
Lobo Notes: The Lobos had a noisy student section in the Southwest corner as Mike Locksley brought about 60 of his football players over for the soccer match. They were joined by members of the Lobo women's soccer team and formed a solid, pro-Lobo corner. Locksley's players cheered loudly for a few physical defensive shots thrown by the Lobos.
On the field, UNM had a scary moment in the first half when an Irvine shot rolled across the top bar on the Lobo net. There was a scarier moment when the Subway sandwich toss put the free meal deep into the heart of the Lobo football team. It was like tossing a wounded carp into a bowl of piranha. Fortunately, the field refs didn't see the scramble for the sub and no yellow cards were issued.