Lobos Drop MPSF Tournament Finale In Gut-Wrenching Fashion
Nov. 11, 2012
Albuquerque, N.M. - The University of New Mexico men's soccer team came within 16 second of clinching their second-straight Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament championship on Sunday afternoon versus Air Force (10-8-4). The Falcons got a game-tying goal in the final moments of the match to force overtime, which lead to Air Force winning the shootout 5-3 for the title.
"The match goes down as a tie in terms of our record, but that's not much consolation. We wanted to win this game and hoist that trophy. But Air Force was pretty impressive with three games in four days. They had a lot of heart so hats off to them," said Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein
On a chilly and very windy fall afternoon, the game was played at a grinding pace. The wind wreaked havoc with high balls and long crosses, which kept the game on the ground. There were limited scoring opportunities in the match's first 45 minutes, but New Mexico did make the only shot on goal in the first half count.
Midfielder Michael Kafari received the ball during an attacking run. The junior stopped short of the box and flicked a pass over the head of a defender to freshman Ben McKendry. McKendry flicked the high arching shot in for the goal from the middle of the box in the 30th minute. It was McKendry's seventh goal of the season and his third goal in two matches in the MPSF Tournament.
The first half ended without any further scoring, and New Mexico leading in shots 5-0 while only taking two corner kicks.
New Mexico got additional threatening chances in first minutes of the second half, which included four corner kicks within a five-minute span. However, the Lobos would be unable to register a shot off any of the corner kicks from Blake Smith and Michael Calderon.
The Falcons nearly tied the game in the 55th minute when Kevin Durr fired a blistering shot from the top of the box that an out-stretched Patrick Poblete was just able to deflect.
The Academy's equalizer came in the final moments of the game on an Air Force free kick. The Falcons would send the set piece into the box as a scramble ensued. The ball would be cleared out by New Mexico but right to Kevin Durr at the top of the box. Durr blasted home the game-tying goal with just 16 seconds left in regulation.
"We said a 1-0 lead was a dangerous lead. The things we had to focus on with a lead, against a team like that are to not give them set pieces, be disciplined with your fouls, good with your clearances. Then with 16 seconds left we gave them a soft foul, gave them a deadball with a poor clearance and the guy hit an incredible shot. He's a pretty special player, Kevin Durr, so credit to him," Coach Fishbein noted.
New Mexico forced a second overtime after UNM goalkeeper Patrick Poblete made a pair of saves within 14 seconds of one another. It was the Lobos who forced the saves in the second overtime, which included Matt Underwood's save of a Blake Smith from the left side of the box in the 104th minute.
After a pair of scoreless overtimes, the match went into a shootout. Each team would convert their first three penalty kicks, but the Lobos were the first to miss when Michael Calderon's shot ricocheted off the cross bar. Air Force's Scott McGillvray would convert his penalty kick to clinch the shootout victory for the Falcons 5-3.
Air Force, as MPSF Tournament champions, earned the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. New Mexico (16-3-1) will look for an at-large berth during the NCAA Selection show on Monday November, 12. The Lobo Soccer program will be gathered at Coaches Bar & Grill at 1414 Central Avenue Southeast to watch the NCAA Selection Show, which airs at 3:30 p.m. (MT). Fans and the media are invited to join the Lobos as they learn their NCAA Tournament future.