Defending champions and No.5 seed University of New Mexico men’s soccer team ended their Conference USA Tournament title defense as they suffered a 1-0 quarterfinal loss to fourth seeded Charlotte in Norfolk, Virginia on Nov. 8.
This was the second time the Lobos (8-6-4, 3-3-2 C-USA) played Charlotte (7-4-6, 2-1-5 C-USA) in a span of two weeks. The first match played in Albuquerque on Oct. 28, ended in a goalless draw that went into double overtime.
A tie breaker was needed to settle the seeding between Charlotte and New Mexico. Both teams finished the regular season and earned 11 points in C-USA. Due to a better goal difference, Charlotte acquired a higher seed.
The Lobos now await a NCAA Tournament at-large bid. Unless they receive the bid, the loss against Charlotte will mark the end of the Lobos regular season.
"We didn't play all that well. We created better chances but didn't find the net,” UNM head coach Jeremy Fishbein said in a release. “In terms of the season, there were a lot of positives, but we didn't execute at the end in terms of scoring goals, despite the chances.”
The Lobos started the match with an attacking intent, and earned three corner kicks in the first 15 minutes.
Junior Antoine Vial and senior Sam Gleadle created the first threatening chance for the Lobos. Vial found Gleadle at the top of the box from where Gleadle took a shot. Charlotte keeper Elliot Panicco saved to stop the Lobos from taking a lead.
With the game going back and forth, the Lobos defense was called into play as the 49ers created back-to-back scoring chances. Despite the Lobos missing C-USA Defensive MVP Aaron Herrera, the defense kept the scoresheet goalless heading into the second half.
At the end of the first half, Charlotte outshot UNM 8-3. Senior and keeper Jason Beaulieu made five saves to keep the 49ers at bay.
The Lobos started the second half just as they had begun the first. The Lobos outshot the 49ers 10-7 as they searched the elusive first goal.
Two minutes into the second half, Gleadle found himself with another goal scoring opportunity at the top of the penalty box. Gleadle controlled and turned the ball, but was dragged down by a Charlotte defender, which sent his effort soaring above the goal.
Gleadle also lead UNM’s offense on the night as he registered six shots in total, with three on goal.
The all-important moment arrived in the 81st minute as a slide tackle in front of the goal from a Lobos defender resulted in a penalty kick for the 49ers. Charlotte junior and defender Callum Montgomery stepped up to put the ball past Beaulieu, who guessed correctly and dived to his right.
Charlotte’s Teddy Chaouche and Madden Tommy led the offence as they registered three and four shots respectively. Goalkeeper Panicco made seven saves on the night and registered the fifth shutout of his 2017 campaign.
"I have a lot of emotions for our seniors, I wished a lot more for them and it was pretty tough go but the result was fairly indicative of our season,” UNM head coach Fishbein said in a release.
Charlotte will advance to the semifinals to face the top seed FIU, who are still undefeated this season.
Ajinkya Patil is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @ajinkyapatil_16.