The University of New Mexico’s men’s soccer season emotional opener on Friday was filled with offensive fireworks featuring six total goals and 28 combined shots.
Monday’s match-up with the 24th-ranked University of Washington Huskies was a more restrained display, notable more for compact, organized defending than creative, attacking soccer.
The Lobos (1-1-0) lost 2-0 to the visiting Huskies (2-0-0) in front of 1,088 fans at the UNM Soccer Stadium.
“A disappointing performance from us tonight,” Lobo Coach Jeremy Fishbein said. “I just think after the emotional win (over Seattle on Friday) it was hard to bring that intensity tonight.”
Both teams labored connecting passes through the lines as defenses kept their shape and forced the ball anywhere but forward. Offenses bogged down in the middle and attacking third amidst a thicket of defenders and precious few available outlets.
A goal-less first half sparked to life in the early stages of the second.
Washington probed the left wing in the second half and swiftly picked the lock. A slip pass opened the Lobo defense, giving Kyle Coffee space in the penalty area to hammer a rising blast for the opening goal.
“That early goal in the second half hurt,” Fishbein said. “I wish we had been at our best tonight. They kind of picked on our right back, they overloaded that side and took a little bit of air out of our sails.”
Washington continued to dominate possession and bully New Mexico on the ball. The Huskies pressed forward looking for a clinching goal and came close in the 60th minute sending a header crashing off the crossbar from a corner kick.
The finishing blow came in the 72nd minute. Washington poured numbers forward on a counter, again starting on the left, and some unselfish combination play freed Scott Menzies for a simple finish from inside the Lobo penalty area.
“We tried to play a little higher and that’s where they hurt us,” sophomore defender Nick Narreiro said. “We need to be a little bit more disciplined in the way we play.”
New Mexico failed to muster a single shot on goal and Washington goalkeeper Saif Kerawala didn’t record a single save. Ford Parker collected four saves for New Mexico.
The Lobos held a 7-2 edge in corner kicks but failed to threaten the Washington goal from those set pieces.
The Lobos had two promising looks at goal smothered by the Huskie defenders in the 16th minute. Sophomore forward Nick Taylor freed himself on the left in the 21st and fizzed in a low cross across goal but no turquoise shirt could get a touch.
“We created chances, we just lacked a little bit of energy,” Taylor said. “You could see they were sitting in defensively which made our job a little more difficult offensively. Today we needed a little more energy.”
The Lobos play three straight road games before returning home against UC Santa Barbara on September 11th.
NOTES: Washington Associate Head Coach Jeff Rowland is an Albuquerque native. He was a walk-on at UNM and currently ranks third in program history in career points (104) and second in goals (45). Rowland’s 2004 seasons is still the top single season mark in goals (19) and points (45). He was a Hermann Trophy finalist, the award given to the top NCAA men’s soccer player. He was twice named a consensus All-American.
Rowland will be inducted into the UNM Athletic Hall of Honor on Oct. 18. His previous coaching stops included Harvard and Creighton before joining the UW staff in 2011.
… UNM falls to 1-5-0 all time against Washington. The Lobos lost to the Huskies 2-1 in the 2017 season opener and 4-1 in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.