Mens Soccer: Ashwill, Francis Lead UNM Back to the NCAA Tournament
Albuquerque, N.M. - The University of New Mexico mens soccer team earned its second-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament this afternoon with a 2-1 overtime victory against San Jose State. The Lobos (17-3-0), playing in front of 1,308 screaming fans at the UNM Soccer Complex, were led by Ben Ashwill and Ricky Francis. The freshman tandem hooked-up on both scores, including the game-winner in the 98th minute of play.
After playing in the bitter cold on Friday night, the Lobos and Spartans came out today to a mild, sunny afternoon in Albuquerque. The weather was such a dramatic change from Friday that both defenses seemed warmed-up and impenetrable in the first half. Neither team was able to mount much of an offense and the game went into intermission tied at zero.
The Lobos came out firing in the second half, with Ashwill scoring on a cross from Francis in the 48th minute, giving New Mexico a 1-0 lead. The way the UNM was playing defense, it seemed as if that goal was going to be the difference in the match. Sophomore keeper Andrew Weber anchored a solid performance by the UNM back line that allowed only four shots-on-goal. Unfortunately for New Mexico, one of those shots surprised everyone and evened the game at 1-1. Spartan midfielder Fausto Villegas sent in a perfect corner kick that Richard Halvorsen headed in for the score in the 75th minute.
Over the next 15 minutes, the Lobos tried their best to score the game-winner, but could not break through the Spartan defense. At the end of regulation, the score remained tied at one and UNM headed into its fourth overtime game of the season. The odds were in the Lobos favor because they had not lost at home this season (9-0-0) and they had not lost an overtime game this season (3-0-0).
Ashwill, the 2002 MPSF Tournament MVP, kept both of those streaks alive when he chested down a cross from Francis and punched in the game-winner in the 98th minute. Ricky just played me a perfect ball, stated Ashwill. I took it down on my chest and just kicked it in. It found the back of the net and I cant really explain the feeling. I just started screaming and going crazy.
The play of UNMs freshman has been phenomenal this season, but they are quick to give credit to the seniors, Javier Carrasco and Junro Narita. The future is looking good, but we owe it to our seniors, continued Ashwill. They taught us everything and brought us into the tournament. We owe it most to them.
Carrasco, who put on a gutty performance today despite a nagging knee injury, was just glad to get back to the NCAA Tournament and prove that last years postseason run was not a fluke. Ive seen this program change from where it was not good at all to where we are bringing in great players who want to play together and work hard, stated Carrasco. All of our hard work over the summer was just paid off today. We are clicking and our crowds have helped us out so much. It is nice to see all of Albuquerque show support for the soccer team. It feels great to go out there in front of that many people and pull out a victory in the championship game.
Narita echoed Carrascos sentiments towards the Lobos crowd support. Its awesome, he stated. We get support and we can hear it during the game. They pushed us through this game and helped us get a win. Narita joined Ashwill on the All-Tournament team along with Weber and freshman Lance Watson.
First year head coach Jeremy Fishbein has led the Lobos to the programs most wins in a season with a 17-3-0 record, but he really wanted to win the MPSF Tournament and lock up the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Its a relief to get in, he stated. This solidified our season and this is a big confidence boost for our guys after coming off two sub-par performances. It just puts us in the right frame of mind going into the NCAA Tournament.
The Lobos will find out on Monday if they get to host the first round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament. The selection show is scheduled to be broadcasted on ESPNNews at 2:30 p.m. (M.S.T.). Check back to GoLobos.com for updates on when and where New Mexico will continue their season and who they will face in the first round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
|Team|1st|2nd|OT|OT|Total| |#2 San Jose State|0|1|0|-|1| |#1 New Mexico|0|1|1|-|2|
Scoring Summary UNM - 47:54 Ben Ashwill (11), Assist Ricky Francis (2) Cross by Francis from right corner, headed in by Ashwill. SJSU - 75:29 Richard Halvorsen, Assist Fausto Villegas Header off a corner kick, near post. UNM - 97:16 Ben Ashwill (12), Assist Ricky Francis (3) Cross from left side, put in from the right.
Final Statistical Summary |Statistic|SJS|UNM| |Overall Shots|11|15| |Shots on Goal|4|6| |Offsides|3|0| |Corner Kicks|3|5| |Fouls|20|17|
2002 MPSf All-Tournament Team
Tournament MVP Ben Ashwill - Freshman - Forward - New Mexico Andrew Weber - Sophomore - Goalkeeper - New Mexico Lance Watson - Freshman - Forward - New Mexico Junro Narita - Senior - Midfielder - New Mexico
Frank Sanfilippo - Senior - Defender - San Jose State Frank Mata - Sophomore - Midfielder - San Jose State Tony Chang - Senior - Midfielder - San Jose State
Daniel Wasson - Freshman - Midfielder - Air Force
Christian Bowers - Sophomore - Midfielder - Denver
David Fraser - Junior - Midfielder- Sacramento State
Alex Hernandez- Senior - Midfielder- UNLV