Despite a highlight reel goal from defender Aaron Herrera, the New Mexico Lobos men’s soccer team was unable to hold on to an early lead and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with the UCLA Bruins on Wednesday night.
In the minutes following kickoff, it appeared that UCLA was controlling the majority of possession, and it only took two minutes for Brian Iloski to force a save from keeper Jason Beaulieu. Just 15 minutes into the game, Herrera got the ball at midfield and, with the UCLA goalkeeper off the line, seized the opportunity and launched a shot from the center line that found the back of the net to give New Mexico a 1-0 lead.
That gave the Lobos the boost they needed to seize control of the rest of the half. Devin Boyce forced two more saves in the next five minutes, but converting on their opportunities would prove to be a challenge for the rest of the night.
Herrera had another opportunity in the 32nd minute, but again, UCLA keeper Kevin Silva was there to save it. A UNM corner kick followed, but the ball was cleared by UCLA, ending the last serious attacking opportunity of the half. At the intermission, the Lobos led 1-0 and had a 4-1 advantage in shots on goal.
UCLA started the second half much in the same way they started the first, controlling the flow of the game. This time, the Lobos were unable to flip the momentum, and in the 52nd minute the Bruins were able to equalize, as Matthew Powell put the ball in the net from inside the box.
From there the Lobos controlled the majority of the possession but were unable to produce a shot on target the rest of regulation. Arguably their best opportunity came in the 57th minute, when the Lobos strung together three consecutive corner kicks but were only able to produce one off-target shot.
In the 84th minute Anderson Asiedu of UCLA was shown red for actions that resulted in a bit of conversation between the two teams, with Asiedu being pulled back from New Mexico players by his teammates. This left the Bruins a man down for the rest of the night.
The end of regulation came with the match still tied at 1-1, setting the stage for two 10-minute, sudden death overtime periods. The first overtime period was controlled by UCLA, and the Bruins were able to generate two shots on goal, as well as one that hit the crossbar, but Beaulieu was able to keep the ball out of the net and keep the Lobos alive for the second overtime period.
The second overtime saw the Lobos with the majority of the chances, with four shots to UCLA’s two. Their best chance, and the only one that forced a save, was an impressive effort from Boyce from the top of the box that forced Silva to dive to his right to keep the ball out. The Lobos frantically tried to find the winner in the closing moments, but a foul in the final minute allowed UCLA to run off the final seconds, ending the match at 1-1.
New Mexico head coach Jeremy Fishbein described the result as disappointing but seemed to feel that his squad was the better of the two.
“Pretty disappointing result, you don’t get too many opportunities to get those games at home,” Fishbein said. “Going into the game we felt we were going to be better than them. Couldn’t give them openings, we were a little sloppy. Gave them that set piece; they got a goal off a set piece. We created a lot of chances, thought we defended well and had the better of the game.”
New Mexico, now 8-3-2 on the season, returns to action this Saturday, Oct. 21 against conference leaders Florida International in Miami.
Cameron Goeldner is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @goeldfinger.