MSoc: Lobos stun Gauchos in final seconds

UCSB suffered a heart-breaking soccer loss Monday night, as New Mexico converted a turnover into a goal with 12 seconds left in regulation to beat the Gauchos 1-0 before 3,147 at Harder Stadium.

With the match appeared headed to overtime, the Gaucho goalkeeper inexplicably rolled the ball out to the left back who started to dribble up field. He was dispossessed and the ball was kicked up to quick Lobos forward James Rogers on the right wing. He laid the ball back to an onrushing Niko Hansen, who buried his shot past goalkeeper Josh McNeely for the game winner.

“It was a good play from us,” said Hansen, who is from Sacramento. “We pressed them hard and just got the goal in.”

It was tough defeat for the Gauchos, who played a solid first half against a quality opponent. Unfortunately for them, they had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.

“I thought it was the best half of the season and we should have gone up at halftime 2-0,” UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “We expended a lot of energy in the first half and I thought we played very well, and we created great chances. We had two head balls at the back post. It was the most dominant performance we had in a long time against a good team.

‘Like any good team, New Mexico responded after halftime and we got tired, we got tired in midfield. We couldn’t get the game back.”

New Mexico, which was coming off two straight losses, had the majority of possession in the second half. But the Lobos were either off target with their shots or stood up by UCSB’s defense.

The Gauchos contained  slick midfielder Michael Calderon and Rogers.

“We had 11 picked up , we had seven picked up,  they didn’t have any looks,” Vom Steeg said of the Lobos’ most dangerous players. “I thought we played very well, but there is an issue when you play with five freshmen, and we had two really bad freshman mistakes. You don’t roll the ball out with 12 seconds and you kick the ball up the field.”

New Mexico improves to 4-2-1 while UCSB falls to 4-3-0.

New Mexico coach Jeremy Fishbein liked how his team stepped up in the second half. He said a switch at fullback made a big difference in slowing UCSB.  He moved Riley McGovern to the right and  put Nick Miele on the left.

“The kid who played left back to start ate that 15 (Ismaila Jome) up in the second half and kind of got him on his heels,” Fishbein said. “Then our center backs just go and mark man for man; we bring in a defensive center mid for seconds and then we were just good on the ball. I was happy with our guys. We’ve been very good this year; the last two games we were just unlucky.”

The Lobos were fortunate to be even with the Gauchos. Center back back Kyle Venter made the defensive play of the game, blocking a diving header from Gaucho Charlie Miller at the goal line after a corner kick in the 56th minute.

“I genuinely feel very bad for the players because I thought from the Gonzaga game to tonight, it’s night and day, two different teams,” Vom Steeg said. “Our effort wasf finally there; the palyers are learning what it takes to compete at this level and dominate a game. When you do all the right things and look up at the scoreboard and give it away, it doesn’t get harder than that.

“It will be challenge to get themt to bounce,” he added. “You would hope you would get rewarded for playing well and we didn’t get rewarded.”