The New Mexico men’s soccer team earned a 2-1 win over visiting UC Riverside on Friday night.
It also suffered a major loss late in the game.
In the 85th minute, senior goalkeeper Patrick Poblete was whistled for his second yellow card of the game, this one for time wasting.
The subsequent red card means Poblete will miss Sunday’s 6 p.m. showdown with top-ranked UCLA.
“Pretty wild call, pretty gutsy call,” UNM coach Jeremy Fishbein said. “Which I’ve never encountered in all my coaching (career). I thought we adapted well dealing with some adversity.”
Freshman Jason Beaulieu came on for the last five minutes and will start in goal Sunday.
“We have another great ‘keeper in Jason Beaulieu,” Fishbein said. “We’re not going to miss a beat. I think those are things that prove very valuable as the season progresses. (But) I wish it hadn’t come to that.”
Before a crowd announced at 2,180 fans Friday night, the second half got off to a sloppy start – three yellow cards were issued in the first 20 minutes – before the No. 5-ranked Lobos (2-0) asserted themselves down the stretch.
UNM got the ball inside the box past a swarm of Riverside defenders in the 69th minute. Sophomore Josh Goss finally collected the ball and fired low, only to see Highlanders goalkeeper Ashkan Khosravi come up with a kick save.
The rebound, however, fell back at Goss’ feet and this time he would not be stopped, slotting the ball into the lower left corner of the goal.
“The first one I got a clean touch on it and I could have sworn it was in,” Goss said. “But I didn’t have time to think, I just snapped it in again.”
Poblete’s first yellow card led to the Highlanders’ only goal. On a play in the box in the sixth minute, Poblete and a Lobo defender went after the ball, only for the ‘keeper to collide with Riverside’s Michael Salazar.
The Highlanders (1-1) were awarded a penalty, and Otis Earle converted for the early score.
“They played off the big ball; they played off seconds; they had a couple of real quality players,” Fishbein said. “They were a team that came here, played with abandon. They had nothing to lose.”
UNM took control of the game for the remainder of the first half. The Lobos finally found a hole in the Riverside defense in the 12th as James Rogers drove into the box and sent a low pass in to sliding midfielder Christopher Wehan, who tapped the ball into the net.
“That pass from Rogers, it was all James on that one, I can’t give him enough credit,” Wehan said. “I just put a good touch on it.”
Despite dominating possession, UNM was not able to capitalize on any of its other scoring chances, heading into halftime tied 1-1.
“It was an interesting game,” Fishbein said. “I thought we were extremely good in the first half – man were we sharp. (But) we didn’t find that second goal until late. They made it difficult.”
After a week of saying they would not overlook the Highlanders, the Lobos will finally get to focus on preparing for No. 1 UCLA.
“I think it’s going to be two very good teams,” Fishbein said. “I think it’s going to be good soccer. I hope the energy level is going to be high.”
The Bruins (2-1) were stunned in the opening game of the Grange and Ashwill Memorial Tournament, losing 2-1 in overtime to American.
Dale Ludwig came out of a scrum of players in the box and put in a shot off the hands of UCLA goalkeeper Earl Edwards to complete the upset.
“College soccer, wow,” Fishbein said. “UCLA will be very good Sunday night. I don’t know what to say about today.”
MARQUETTE 2, UNM 1: In Colorado Springs, the UNM women’s soccer team led 1-0 at the half over the preseason No. 15 team in the nation.
However, Marquette scored a pair of goals in a 108-second span early in the second half – including one on what looked to be an attempted cross that took a fortunate bend toward the Lobo goal – to erase the early deficit and defeat UNM 2-1 on Friday afternoon at Washburn Field.
UNM took the lead in the 11th minute when the Lobos cleared the ball to a streaking Dylann O’Connor, who hit a shot from the left side of the box.
Marquette’s Jacie Jermier scored the equalizer in the 52nd minute. Then in the 54th, Eli Beard’s centering shot curled in on the right side of the net to give the Golden Eagles a 2-1 lead.