ALBUQUERQUE – The magic of an undefeated season seemed to have deserted New Mexico for the first part of its second-round NCAA battle with Duke. However, the magic returned in the form of a game-tying screamer by Blake Smith and a golden-goal header by Carson Baldinger in the 98th minute.
The Lobos took advantage of Duke playing a man short and Smith sent a ball past the Duke keeper in the 82nd minute which produced a 1-1 tie that eventually pushed the Lobos into overtime.
The Lobos made the Blue Devils pay on a pass to a streaking Devon Sandoval, who sent a header past the Duke keeper and right into the head of the hard-charging Baldinger.
Naturally, the No. 1-ranked Lobos and a portion of the 6,200 in attendance charged the field.
Duke went up 1-0 on a savage finish by Nick Palodichuk, who drilled the cross past UNM keeper Victor Rodriquez, who had no chance for the save.
Duke then fell back into a defensive wall trying to weather out a number of UNM attacks. The tactic provided a number of scary moments for Duke but the strategy was working until an untimely call on a header sent Chris Tweed-Kent to the bench with a red card. Tweed-Kent scored the game-winner in the first round that sent Duke to New Mexico’s pitch.
The Lobos attacked with the fierceness and the desperation of an undefeated team not wanting to experience a season-ending loss.
Smith gave the Lobos life when he received a pass in front of the Duke net, went to his left and sent a rocket past the right side of Duke keeper, James Belshaw.
Duke being down a man surely aided the Lobos in netting the tie and it was a tremendous handicap for the altitude-tested Blue Devils as they marched into overtime with the nation’s No. 1 ranked team. At least one talented Lobo could never be marked as UNM was a man up.
The Lobos’ golden goal was a thing of beauty as UNM powered down on the right side of the Lobo attack zone. Sandoval’s header was close to being the game-winner, but when it floated past Belshaw, Baldinger was there to push the Lobos deeper into NCAA play.
The Lobos dominated the action most of the way Sunday, especially when Duke fell back into its defensive tactics after going up 1-0. UNM had 17 shots with seven on goal. Duke had 13 shots with two on goal.