The Lobos found themselves in unfamiliar territory, down two goals at home in the second half, against the San José State Spartans Sunday afternoon. And although UNM mounted a comeback, the bid fell short, as the team lost 2-1.
UNM (9-5, 4-2 MW) gave up two goals only 26 seconds apart from one another. The first came off of a Spartan corner, which found Darriell Franklin at the top of the box, making a shot that found the top left corner of the goal.
New Mexico was held to just seven shot attempts for the second consecutive match. Against Fresno State, the Lobos were able to weather the storm, but this time they couldn’t find a way to win.
The disparity tilted the match in favor of the Spartans as they put five shots on goal, more than doubling the amount New Mexico was able to manage.
San Diego State also held a 9-5 advantage on corner kick opportunities. And it was on one of those chances about midway through the second half that put the team ahead.
The Lobos appeared out of sorts immediately after the goal, and a quick Spartan counter-attack added a second goal. SDSU’s Jennifer Orozco, dribbling infield from the left, slid the ball to Jamilecxth Becerra, who slotted the ball past UNM sophomore goalkeeper Emily Johnson.
New Mexico midfielder Claire Lynch said showing poise after a goal is scored is a point of emphasis that the team has discussed and that allowing that second goal was a crucial blow.
“We talk about ‘big five’ moments a lot, and one of them is after a goal is scored — that’s usually when another goal is scored,” Lynch said. “We weren’t on, and they took advantage of that.”
The Lobos did refocus after the second goal. Though San José State had few chances toward the end of the game, UNM applied a significant amount of pressure on the Spartan back line.
However, entering the final 10 minutes of play, it looked as though the match would end 2-0. Despite the UNM pressure, the Spartan defense was holding out. New Mexico, which is usually potent on set pieces and long throw-ins, was often beaten in the air.
But in the 82nd minute, the Spartan defense finally yielded. UNM junior midfielder Jennifer Muñoz’s driven cross from the right found the head of senior midfielder Lynch, who fired the ball past San San José goalkeeper Paige Simoneau.
That goal cut the deficit in half, but there simply weren’t any more scoring chances for the Lobos to find the equalizer.
Even though the team wasn’t able to even things up, UNM head coach Heather Dyche appeared to be happy with the way the players bounced back.
“We made an adjustment, and I thought when we did that we started to create better chances and actually eliminate their dangerous chances. I was pleased that our team could adjust and that we could take away what they’re good at and add something to our game,” Dyche said in a release.
She also discussed how critical the moments following an initial goal are and acknowledged how San José State’s subsequent score made things that much harder.
“I think those goals were against the run of play. It’s disheartening when the first goal comes that way. All year long we’ve talked about how you respond to a goal, and to give up a second one is just brutal to fight back from,” Dyche said. “But we keep fighting, and that’s the cool thing about our team — you never feel like we’re out of it. It’s disappointing to lose, but I’m not disappointed with our effort.”
The loss ended a six-match home winning streak for New Mexico and makes the upcoming road trip that much more important. The Lobos will travel to face Air Force and Colorado College on Oct. 13 and 15, respectively.
Matthieu Cartron is a sports beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers women’s soccer and men’s tennis. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cartron_matt.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball, football and tennis. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.