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Monday, December 22, 2014

UNM 125: Historic climb, heartbreaking fall

Printed December 12-16, 2005

CARY, N.C. – The biggest game in college soccer can also bring the biggest disappointment.

UNM goalkeeper Mike Graczyk let one ball past the goal line in the NCAA College Cup Championship. That was all it took for Maryland to claim the National Championship.

When the clock ran out, New Mexico players fell to the ground with disappointment. Their season is over, and the eight seniors on the team will not have another chance to win the college title.

Head coach Jeremy Fishbein said this is the team’s third loss in two seasons. He said that although his players are not accustomed to losing, he hopes they can lose with the same grace they win with.

“What I said to our guys after the game is ‘when you play a team of that caliber, and play a big game like that, sometimes it comes down to the bounce of the ball,’” Fishbein said. “The bounces have gone our way for the most part this year, and they didn’t go our way today.”

UNM leading scorer Jeff Rowland said he thought the Maryland team played well, but did not dominate the game.

“They played well,” Rowland said. “I think we played just as well, created enough chances to win the game as well. I think luck was more on their side this time, unfortunately.”

UNM midfielder David Gualdarama fouled Maryland’s Chris Lancos in the 14th minute. Forward Marc Burch took the free kick for Maryland and scored from 25 yards out.

“The scored on a freakin’ deflection, so it’s not like they dominated and kicked the crap out of us,” Rowland said.

The Lobos had a chance to retaliate with a penalty kick off a Maryland hand ball in the box.

In the 50th minute, defender Andrew Boyens took the penalty kick, but he missed the chance to capitalize on Maryland’s mistake. Boyens’ shot bounced off the Maryland goalkeeper, giving him a second chance.

The second attempt cleared the goal and soared out of bounds.

“It’s the most disappointing thing you can go through, really,” Boyens said. “You’ve got the weight of the team on your shoulders when you are standing there by yourself. To miss it is horrible and to miss the second one is even worse.”

Although it is not the norm to have a defensive player shoot penalty kicks, Fishbein said Boyens has been taking penalty kicks for the team all season and Boyens has the confidence and experience to do it.

“He’s played in big games and played big international matches,” Fishbein said. “He hasn’t done many things wrong in the two years he has been here. That wasn’t why we lost the game. He saved us a lot of goals the whole weekend.”

Graczyk said it is hard to leave knowing the team was only a penalty kick away from a national championship.

“We win as a team and we lose as a team no matter what happens,” he said. “It hurts to get this far and not come back with a gold trophy.”