Sept. 27, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Decisively outshot during its matchup with No. 25 New Mexico, the UC Davis men's soccer team made the most of its opportunities to stun the host Lobos 2-1 in a non-conference game on Friday night.
Sophomore Ryan Gross scored on a penalty kick in the 22nd while junior Matt Wiesenfarth delivered the game-winner in the 74th minute to help the Aggies even their record at 4-4-1. New Mexico, which picked up an equalizing goal in the 63rd minute from Ben McKendry, fell to 4-3-1.
"I thought my team played really well tonight," said UC Davis head coach Dwayne Shaffer. "We were organized, disciplined and did all the right things to win the game.
"This team deserved this result. We've been in some tough battles this season, been on the wrong end of some of these results — which I did not think were justified. I kept telling the guys to continue working hard because things will eventually turn our way. All the guys worked hard, and because of that, Friday's result went our way."
New Mexico has been ranked as high as ninth during the season and was 14th as recently as last week. The Lobos entered the game after winning 1-0 at UC Santa Barbara on Monday.
Friday, the Lobos had the edge on the game stats, outshooting the Aggies 18-4 overall, including 8-3 on shots on goal. They also held an 11-2 advantage on corner kicks, but it was UC Davis that delivered more on its chances.
New Mexico had the game's first three shots and first two corners before the Aggies got on the scoreboard first on a penalty kick from Gross with 21 minutes, 53 seconds elapsed in the first half.
Aggie goalkeeper Omar Zeenni came up big just over a minute later, stopping James Rogers' shot from the right wing. A yellow card on Zeenni in the 25th minute gave New Mexico a prime opportunity to tie the game, but Michael Calderon missed the penalty kick and UC Davis maintained the lead. The Aggies had two more shots on goal before taking their 1-0 lead into halftime.
"Omar making that save, at that point of the game, gave us a lot of confidence," said Shaffer.
Zeenni made another save in the 51st minute, stopping Chris Wehand from the far left wing but the Lobos were able to tie the game just 12 minutes later when McKendry's shot from the top of the box found the left side of the net for the goal. Oniel Fisher got the assist.
Zeenni made another key save in the 70th minute, stopping Calderon from the close left wing. That set up Wiesenfarth's heroics almost four minutes later when he took a cross from Ian Palmer, drew out Lobos keeper Michael Lisch and then went to the far post for his first goal of the year.
Zeenni made two more saves, including one on a header from McKendry in the 85th minute, while two other New Mexico shots in the box were blocked. Zeenni had seven saves overall.
"New Mexico put a lot of pressure on us throughout the last 10 minutes or so, that forced us to make tactical changes to disrupt their play. I thought my guys did a great job handling their attack.
"As a coach, I want my student-athletes to compete in a road environment like the one in New Mexico. It's a tough place to play with everyone chanting things at both teams," said Shaffer.
It was UC Davis' second win over a ranked opponent in its last seven road games, joining a 2-1 overtime win last October at then No. 25 UCSB.
UC Davis returns to action when it hosts Big West openers on Friday at 3 p.m. against UC Irvine and Sunday at 4 p.m. versus No. 6 Cal State Northridge. UC Irvine is receiving votes in the national rankings.
The Aggies first road trip, scheduled the following week, includes a stop at UC Riverside - another team that was recognized in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's most recent national poll.
Added Shaffer, "We play an extremely difficult schedule in one of the highest-rated conferences in the country. It's not going to get any easier for us when we return home, hopefully our non-conference schedule has prepared us for another Big West run."