The Lobos (12-7, 7-4 MW) conceded a goal within the final five second of the game to lose to San Diego State (10-7-2, 7-2-2 MW) at the UNM Soccer Complex on Friday night—the Lobos’ senior night.
Before the game, the Lobos were vying to maintain the second seed in the Mountain West Conference standings. The first and second seeds receive a bye to the semifinals.
But both San Diego State and Boise State were close behind. An SDSO win would see them finish second, while a tie between SDSU and UNM would have put Boise second.
SDSU started the game on the front-foot, and punished the Lobos within the first minute of the game. Freshman midfielder Chloe Frisch fed sophomore midfielder Rachel Speros at the top of the box, and the sophomore then fired the ball into the top-right corner of the goal.
Despite the early setback, the Lobos were able to grab a foothold in the game, and in the 26th minute, they equalized. A one-time through ball at the edge of the box from senior midfielder Casey Murphy found senior forward Eileen Zendejas, who poked the ball past Aztec sophomore goalkeeper Gabby English.
Less than five minutes after UNM’s equalizer, SDSU regained the lead after a corner was volleyed by senior defender Stacie Morgan to senior forward Angela Mitchell, who turned the ball in from inside the six-yard box.
The score remained 2-1 at halftime, but ten minutes after the second half kickoff, the Lobos equalized for the second time. A Frisch clearance was deflected to UNM senior forward Claire Lynch, who directed the ball past English and into the goal.
The Lobos continued to attack, and took the lead in the 65th minute through another senior. Junior defender Jessica Nelson’s flip-throw-in was flicked on at the near post and bundled in by senior defender Emily Chavez from point blank.
The Lobos kept their 3-2 lead deep into the game, and four minutes from the final whistle, it appeared as though they might hold on to take the second seed.
But SDSU was not finished. In the 87th minute, an onrushing Moran met a low ball angled back across the goal—UNM sophomore goalkeeper Emily Johnson deflected the shot into a UNM defender, and the ball rolled over the line to make it 3-3.
The Lobos continued to fight hard as the teams went into overtime, but seven seconds from the end of the second extra period, the referee whistled for a foul against a Lobo defender just outside of the box to the right of the UNM goal.
Aztec freshman forward Mia Root stepped up to take the kick, and her whipped-in ball was deflected in the goal at the far post with five seconds left. The goal signaled the end of the game and gifted the Aztecs a 4-3 victory and a first round bye in the conference tournament. Root was credited with the goal.
The foul whistled by the referee at the end of the game appeared to have minimal contact, and both the UNM players and coaching staff were unhappy with the decision. UNM coach Heather Dyche said she felt there was no foul on the play, but said she was proud of her side’s display, and felt that they were the better team in overtime.
"The good thing for our team is we aren't done yet," Dyche said. "We'll take this and get better. . . I don't think there is anyone in the conference that we feel like we can't beat. Now we just got to figure out a way to go do that."
The Lobos finished fourth in the conference standings, and will play Fresno State in the first round of the conference tournament. The tournament will be played in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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.