If this was the last first game for the University of New Mexico men’s soccer team, the Lobos certainly made the best of it.
New Mexico downed the No. 22 Seattle Redhawks 4-2 during Friday’s season opener. Three players got on the scoreboard with sophomore Matt Puig (first year as a Lobo) leading the offense with a brace.
“That’s a big upset, it’s a great step in the right direction,” Puig said. “With all the stuff that’s been going on, we just have to battle through and keep going because we are doing great.”
The first goal of the night came from senior midfielder Antoine Vial 25 minutes into the match with an assist from Puig. During preseason, Vial stated that he wants this season to go at least twice as good as last year. He scored four goals during 2017, which means he’s already a quarter of the way to match that stat. Nathan Aune, Redhawk captain and Western Athletic Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, received a red card following Vial’s goal.
“The kid made a mistake,” said UNM head coach Jeremy Fishbein regarding the red card that took out one of Seattle’s best players. “We talked about that before the game, we can’t make those mistakes. We gotta put pressure on our opponents and you can’t do that. That’s what we preach to our guys, our mentality, our maturity.”
The second goal belonged to Puig, but it was a display of team effort. Tom Smart sent the ball to freshman Omar Grey who was inside the box on the right side. Grey used a header to move the ball a little more to the left where Matt Dorsey attempted to get it but couldn’t reach. Puig found it and finished the play during the 31st minute.
— The Lair New Mexico (@thelairnm) August 25, 2018
Things seemed to be going in favor of the Lobos, but the Redhawks refused to go into the locker room without getting on the scoreboard. Julian Avila-Good headed one in for Seattle after a corner kick, the only one of the half, by teammate Gabriel Ruiz.
Puig took advantage of the momentum his team had during the first 45 minutes and scored his second goal just five and a half minutes into the second period. Sophomore Nick Taylor sent a long ball straight into a Seattle defender. Fortunately for the Lobos, this player wasn’t able to take control of the ball and Puig saw an opportunity to run and bury the ball deep into the right side of the net.
Seattle’s last successful offensive effort came during the 74th minute from Cody Gibson. The Readhawks looked for the equalizer but instead, UNM’s Grey, who is actually from Seattle, got the insurance goal during the 84th minute after goalkeeper Josh Adachi saved a shot fired by junior midfielder Aaron Scott.
Grey couldn’t have been happier as he was playing against his hometown team.
“I was kind of anxious to score. When I finally got that goal, it was a relief,” he said. “It was great because I felt like it kind of welcomed me to my new crowd, my new home. It was exciting. I wanted to celebrate more but I was too tired.”
Official UNM boxscore