TULSA, Okla – The University of New Mexico men’s soccer team’s 23-game unbeaten streak would come to an end Friday night at the hands of Tulsa University (2-0-0) in the first day of the Tulsa Invitational. The Golden Hurricanes would walk away with the 2-1 victory after scoring less than two minutes into overtime to secure the win. It would mark the first time the Lobos have lost a match since losing to Creighton in the NCAA Tournament on November 18, 2010.
It was a loss that New Mexico Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein would describe as “gut-wrenching”.
For the first time this season, after two exhibitions and one regular season game, the Lobos would be the first team to find their way to the scoreboard. The goal would come off the head of sophomore defender Matthew Gibbons. Gibbons would tally his second career goal off an assist from senior Blake Smith on the header from five yards out.
Unfortunately for New Mexico, Tulsa’s equalizer would come just two minutes later. The Golden Hurricanes would convert a penalty kick after UNM’s Travis Campbell earned a red card. The senior was whistled for an intentional handball in the box after a New Mexico mis-clearance. It would be Akeil Barrett that would tie the match up in the 28th minute on the penalty kick. It would also mean the Lobos would have to play a man down.
“We played 60 minutes a man down and in that time we did great. We out-shot them ten to four and corner kicks were in our favor five to nothing as well. We played really well and had really good chances to score a second goal to finish it,” Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein commented.
The pair of goals minutes apart would be the only scoring action of the first half as the teams went into intermission tied at one goal apiece. The Lobos would hold a 9-7 shot advantage on Tulsa with the Golden Hurricane keeper, Mark Pais, recording three saves to UNM’s Patrick Poblete’s two saves.
Neither side would capture a game-winning goal in the second half, as both keepers would keep their opponents off the scoreboard in the 45-minute span. The Lobos were attacking with a furious pace to close out the game’s first 90 minutes. New Mexico would register three shots in three minutes leading up to the final exchange in regulation. That action would see Nick Miele’s header miss high off the Michael Calderon corner in the 89th minute.
Poblete would record three saves in the second half (five for the match) as the Lobos once again held the shot advantage, 10-4, in the half. Tulsa’s goalkeeper Mark Pais would record five saves in the first 90 minutes of action.
However the fortunate of the match would tilt in Tulsa’s favor just 1:42 into overtime. Bryce Follensbee would put away the rebound from Matt Boullt’s shot to give Tulsa the overtime victory.
“Then in overtime, it was a bit unlucky. They took a shot from distance and Pat Poblete, who I thought had a really solid game, gave up a rebound (after an initial save). Then they followed it in to beat us in overtime,” said Coach Fishbein. “There were a lot of positive for us in this loss. We reacted well to going down a man, but now we need to refocus on Sunday’s game.”
The Lobos will face #20 SMU on Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. (MT) on the campus of Tulsa University.
Gibbon’s goal was the second of his career with his first goal coming October 7, 2011 in Lobos’ 3-2 victory at Denver University.
The loss is the first regular season defeat for the Lobos since a 3-2 loss to Air Force on October 10, 2010. It’s the first regular season non-conference loss since UNM’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Dartmouth on September 25, 2010.