ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Perhaps things could have been prettier, but Sunday’s bottom line certainly looked good for the University of New Mexico soccer teams.
UNM’s men and women both pulled out victories over Air Force in a home doubleheader. The Lobo women turned a dominant first half into a 4-1 win, and New Mexico’s men followed with a 1-0 triumph in front of 4,781 fans.
Neither UNM team scored a second-half goal, which drew less-than-sparkling reviews from the respective head coaches. Still, both were glad to walk away with significant conference wins.
Friday: Lobo men at Seattle, 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 23: Lobo women at Boise State, 1 p.m.
“We played really well in the first half,” Lobo women’s coach Kit Vela said of her team’s 4-0 intermission lead. “It’s absolutely something we can use to build momentum.”
New Mexico’s men remained unbeaten by making a first-half penalty kick stand up. The Lobos, who are ranked anywhere from third to sixth in various national polls, could not tap into their usual scoring magic but did enough to sweep the season series from Air Force.
“This wasn’t the game we wanted,” UNM men’s coach Jeremy Fishbein said. “We made some mistakes and gave (the Falcons) too many chances. But we dealt with adversity, played well in areas and we’re glad we won.”
The doubleheader started in fine fashion for New Mexico, as its women’s team immediately put the Falcons on their heels. Jennifer Williams and Stephanie Rowe scored unassisted goals on nearly identical plays just 19 seconds apart to give the Lobos (8-4-4, 2-0-2 Mountain West) a 2-0 lead in the ninth minute. Both players completed runs into the goal area with short shots into the right side of the net.
Williams tallied again four minutes later when Air Force goalkeeper Kelly Stambaugh came out of her box and was caught out of position. Williams’ ninth goal of the season made it 3-0.
Vela used the opportunity to play numerous reserves, including Ashley Espinoza, who converted her first goal on a rebound shot in the final minute of the half.
All the substitutions may have slowed UNM’s momentum in the second half, as Air Force (7-3-0, 1-2-0) cashed in the only goal on McKenna Fox’s unassisted blast. The Lobos finished with a 15-5 edge in shots, but some rough play in the second half led to an Air Force yellow card followed by a red card to UNM assistant coach Jorge Vela, who was ejected after voicing his displeasure to officials.
UNM’s men came out hoping to ride the momentum of Friday night’s 6-0 romp over Denver. Sunday’s match against Air Force (7-5-1, 1-3-1 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) proved more stressful.
The Lobos (11-0-0-2) had several chances to break through early, including on a Devon Sandoval header that was grabbed by AFA goalkeeper Matt Underwood. But the match stayed scoreless until 28th minute, when New Mexico’s Lance Rozeboom maneuvered past two defenders in the goal area and was subsequently pulled down.
Rozeboom, who cashed in a PK for Friday’s first goal, did it again with a low blast to the left side of the net. It proved to be the only score, though both teams had chances in the second half. UNM finished with a 13-10 edge in shots.
“I’m just proud of the guys for grinding it out,” Rozeboom said. “Any win against Air Force is a good win.”
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal