Sept. 2, 2011
San Luis Obispo, Calif. --- To not use the word “physical” in describing Friday evening’s match between the New Mexico Lobos and the Mustangs of Cal Poly would be severely denying the overall tone of the game, which was set from the early minutes of the contest.
Friday night yielded four yellow cards, two apiece for New Mexico and Cal Poly, over the course of 120 minutes of play. The first card on Cal Poly was given just under 14 minutes into the game, and set an aggressive pace for the remainder of the match.
New Mexico’s first half of play was true to form, controlled and collected, but Cal Poly was able to deny scoring opportunities, making for a half played primarily in the midfield. Just five shots were taken between the two teams in the first half, and neither team was awarded a corner kick. Only one shot in the first half fell on net for Lobo keeper Victor Rodriguez to save.
With both teams vying for transition opportunities, frustration was to be expected, and in the 37th minute New Mexico defender Travis Campbell picked up a yellow card of his own.
While the pace of the game heading into halftime suggested that the Lobos had much to be confident about, the first 20 minutes of the second half showed the Mustangs asserting their home turf dominance. Cal Poly unleashed their offense early on in the second, peppering Rodriguez with nine more shots to New Mexico’s one. The Mustangs also earned six corner opportunities, while New Mexico was only able to garnish a lone corner chance on the half.
Yet the Lobo defense, anchored by Rodriguez for the full 120, remained solid. Of the Mustang’s nine second half shots, just one fell on goal. New Mexico kept up the tenacity, and Patrick Pacheco warranted the Lobos second yellow card of the evening in the 76th minute of play.
“We defended really well during the first 20 minutes of the second half, and then got back into it in the last 25,” head coach Jeremy Fishbein said post-game. “We had a one-on-one opportunity towards the end of the second half that we just couldn’t convert, and had to take it into overtime.”
The first overtime period gave New Mexico a second promising opportunity, but Campbell’s shot, the only one of the period, went wide left. Cal Poly took three shots in the final 15 minutes of play but once again was unable to find the mark, leaving the score tied at 0-0 after 120 minutes.
“This is a team that is really good at home,” Fishbein said. “They’re put together to play on this home field, and they were really good tonight. The positive for us is that we played a hungry team when we weren’t at our best, and came out all right. But they were a really great, challenging opponent for us.”
Rodriguez finished the game for the Lobos having made three saves on the evening, while Patrick McLain made one stop over 120 minutes for the Mustangs. Cal Poly’s George Malki shouldered both cards for his team, with the latter coming with just 15 seconds remaining in the game.
The Lobos will cap off their weekend in California with a trip to Santa Clara to take on the Broncos on Sunday at 8 p.m.