UNM gives up penalty-kick goal; Kentucky holds on for 1-0 victory
The first half ended in rather controversial fashion, and with it went the New Mexico men’s soccer team’s chance at an upset of No. 13 Kentucky.
Awarded a foul and a direct kick in the waning seconds of the half, the Wildcats lofted a ball on which Billy Jones was called for handling in the penalty area. The result was a penalty kick for Kentucky (5-1-1, 2-0-0 Conference USA), which Aime Mabika converted for a 1-0 decision over the Lobos (4-3-0, 0-1-0) Saturday at the UNM Soccer Complex.
The loss, before an announced
turnout of 1,263, ends a 14-game UNM home unbeaten streak during which the Lobos went 12-0-2 dating back to Oct. 27, 2015.
It was a match the Lobos thoroughly controlled in possession and tempo. But despite several solid scoring chances, they could not come up with the equalizer as Kentucky packed in the defense and grimly hung on.
“In previous games, the coaches have spoken to us that we haven’t exactly opened the way we’d like to,” said Lobo forward Sam Gleadle. “I thought our response was great. We dominated pretty much the whole first half. Until the last little bit. That shows that if (we) turn off for a couple of seconds anything can happen. And the refs, well you can’t control that. We’re really happy with the way we opened.”
Gleadle had two shots on goal, but like his teammates, he wasn’t able to quite solve the Kentucky defense.
“Obviously we’re frustrated not to win at home, but there’s lot of positives to take away from the game, especially with how we opened,” Gleadle said. “We’ll find positives and move on.”
Despite the scoreboard, the Lobos turned in a strong performance, UNM coach Jeremy Fishbein said.
“Pretty unfortunate result,” he said. ‘I thought for a majority of the game we were really good. We connected passes, we played in their half. I thought our speed of play was good.”
But the Lobos knew they had to play error-free to beat a team like Kentucky, Fishbein said
“We talked about Kentucky, this is a team that you can’t give openings to because all they need is one and they’re going to defend and they’re really happy defending,” he said. “That’s what happened. We made two mistakes on their goal. We shouldn’t have given them a set piece. And I don’t know what happened on the hand ball, but it’s pretty unfortunate to give them a goal in the last 30 seconds of the first half.”
It was more of the same after the break.
“In the second half, I thought we opened slow but then we got a hold of the game and we were good,” Fishbein said. “We just kind of missed the final pass in the final third. We didn’t take our chances.”
NOTES: Fishbein, as well Wildcats coach Johan Cedergren, were not on their respective benches because each was suspended for receiving red card ejections in their previous games. … In his 26th season as a head coach, this was Fishbein’s first career red card. … Associate head coach Michael Graczyk replaced Fishbein for the match.