New Mexico 1, Cal St. Northridge (OT)

Nov. 26, 2005

The Lobos men's soccer team relied on its defense tonight in a 1-0, overtime win against Cal-State Northridge in the third round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The Lobos repelled 15 Matador shots to keep the game even through regulation. Senior Hermann Trophy Candidate Jeff Rowland scored the game-winner just 34 seconds into overtime to give UNM its first trip to the Elite Eight in school history.

CSUN came out determined to set the tone from the start of the game. After a defensive miscue by the Lobos in the 24th minute, Matador defender Sean Franklin found himself with the ball just outside of the box with only Lobo keeper Mike Graczyk to beat. Franklin fired a bomb that Graczyk was able to get a hand on, but had no chance to collect. Graczyk's diving save left him completely out of position as the ball bounced out to the top of the box. Lobo defender Andrew Boyens was trying to get back in the play and was the only thing between CSUN midfielder Daniel Paladini and a sure goal. Paladini fired another rocket and the Matadors looked to have a 1-0 lead. However, the 6-4 Boyens leaped and got his head on the ball, sending it harmlessly over the crossbar.

Northridge had another great opportunity in the opening minute of the second half. Keeper Kevin Guppy sent a goal kick that skirted through the left side of the defense. Matador forward Willie Sims collected the ball and had a one-on-one with Graczyk, but Graczyk stoned Simms attempt.

Graczyk made another great save as time wound down during regulation. With six seconds left on the clock, a ball was played into the Lobo box. Matador midfielder Taylor Canel got off a great header, but Graczyk tapped the shot over the crossbar and time expired.

The Lobos were outshot, 15-11 in the match, just the fifth time this year they have given up more shots than they had taken. The 15 shots by Cal-State Northridge were also the third most allowed in 2005. The Matadors also earned three corner-kicks while the Lobos were shutout in that category. In the end, however, the only statistic that mattered was in the score column.

After the ball bounced around midfield for a few seconds at the start of the first extra period, sophomore Blake Danaher made a move down the right side of the field. He played the ball back to Lars Loeseth in traffic. Loeseth was able to wrestle the ball out to Rowland who was waiting at the top of the box. Rowland collected the ball, turned and fired. Guppy had no chance to make a play on the ball as it fell into the back of the net, giving New Mexico the 1-0 win. It was the 15th strike of the year for Rowland and his second of the NCAA Tournament. It was also the fifth assist of the season for Loeseth.

Rowland's goal sent the 4,849 fans into a frenzy, as the Lobos set a UNM Soccer Complex record for attendance for the second consecutive game. It was also the fourth time this season New Mexico drew over 4,000 fans for a men's soccer match.

With the win, UNM improves to 16-1-3 on the year while Cal-State Northridge ends their season at 15-4-3. Graczyk made four saves in the game and added to his school record with his 12th shutout of the season which is also a new team-high for New Mexico. The Lobos will host their first ever appearance in the NCAA Elite Eight on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7:00 p.m. (M.S.T.) at the UNM Soccer Complex. The second-seeded Lobos will take on seventh-seeded California in the quarterfinals. Cal defeated Wake Forest, 3-2, in double-overtime in its third round match. Tickets for the game will be available next week at the UNM Ticket Office at The Pit. Call (505) 925-LOBO for more information.

--Courtesy of New Mexico Athletics