Despite having most of the possession and dominating the game from start to finish, the Lobos drew to the Denver Pioneers in a scoreless match, which went into double overtime and saw two red cards, one to each of team.
The game was a classic example of showing that it does not matter how long a team has the ball, what matters is what it does when it has it. Despite their solid defense, the Lobos lacked creativity and urgency to score the game-winning goal.
The Lobos are now 8-4-3 overall and 3-2-1 in C-USA. For the Pioneers, this draw takes them to 8-6-1 overall and also keeps them undefeated in their last three games. The streak is also the Pioneers’ best for this season.
Denver outshot New Mexico 11-13. University of New Mexico senior and goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu made seven saves on the night and registered his fifth shutout of the season.
“Defensively, we were pretty good; we really didn’t give them any good chances,” head coach Jeremy Fishbein said. “I mean the statistics are kind of misleading. We had quite a few really good opportunities that we didn’t finish, and everything they had was from pretty far outside.”
The Lobos showcased their strength of defending as a unit from the very first minute. This meant the Pioneers didn’t have a sniff at the goal until midway through the first half.
While both teams seemed content with the pace of the game, the first chance of the match fell to UNM junior Aaron Herrera, as he was played in behind the Pioneers defense.
Herrera tried to lob the keeper who charged off the line and made the save, only to see the ball fall to junior Antoine Vial. Vial tried to score with a delicate finish but saw the ball go wide of target.
Vial was shown a controversial red card as he tried to regain the ball from a Pioneers player who was lying on the ground after the episode.
“I don’t really know; the referee told me that I was trying to kick the head of the other player when I had my foot under him,” Vial said when asked about the incident.
Just two minutes later, redshirt sophomore Devin Boyce was tackled from the back, and the referee showed another red card as he sent off Pioneers’ Blake Moncur.
Despite a controversial first half, both teams began the second half the same way as they ended the first. Each team passed the ball around trying to carve out an opening in the opposition.
With ten minutes left in regulation time, Boyce played a quick one-two and fired a stinging shot on target, only to see it saved by the goalkeeper.
The Lobos changed tactics and this saw Herrera, the team’s top goal scorer, play as a forward instead of a defender.
With only five minutes remaining in the game, Herrera earned himself a free kick on the edge of the box. He stepped up and fired away but saw his ball deflect off the wall and away from the goal.
As the game headed into overtime, it was about which team wanted the win more. Lobos made their intentions clear taking multiple shots one after the other. The Lobos outshot Pioneers 3-1 in shots taken in overtime periods.
“It’s disappointing to get a tie, but that is our mentality. We’re here to win games; we’re not here to tie games,” head coach Fishbein said. This was UNM’s third draw of the season.
The Lobos next face Charlotte on Saturday, Oct. 28 for senior night at the UNM soccer complex. Kick off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Ajinkya Patil is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ajinkyapatil_16.