SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Senior Ryan Rhoads capitalized early in the second half, heading in the equalizer and helping Sacramento State to a 1-1 tie with ninth-ranked New Mexico on Friday afternoon at Hornet Soccer Field.
The Modesto, Calif., native crashed in from seven yards out in the 49th minute, getting his head to senior Pedro Lupercio’s cross before New Mexico goalkeeper Mike Graczyk could make the save. The play developed when junior midfielder Kurtis Lindsey found Lupercio open on the right side with ball over the top of the Lobos’ back line.
The Hornets pushed hard for the game winner in overtime. During the 104th minute, senior Eliot Ricks-Chambers had the best scoring opportunity with a low-driven blast that went just wide of the post. The Sacramento native used his speed to break past New Mexico’s defense, receiving a pass from junior Eli Millan, but was not able to put his shot on frame.
Sacramento State is now 5-10-2 on the season and 2-4-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, while the Lobos, who are in a fight to win their third consecutive conference championship, fall to 10-3-3 overall and 5-1-1 in league.
During the last five minutes of regulation, it was again Ricks-Chambers causing difficulty for New Mexico, forcing Graczyk to make a one-handed save at the near post in the 85th minute. The play resulted in a Hornets’ corner kick, with sophomore Adam Owens finding space in the box, but sending his header just wide.
While the Sacramento State offense created several scoring opportunities, Hornet freshman goalkeeper Ryan Kenny made nine stops in an effort to keep the Lobos off the scoreboard. During the first overtime, Kenny made a diving save on P.J. Wilson’s shot, while Brandon Barklage was denied by the crossbar with less than three minutes left in regulation.
Kenny received help from his back line, comprised off central defenders Zach Tuss and Owens and left back Jack Jones. Senior Ismael Echeverría and freshman Shelby Johnson split time out wide as well.
Millan also narrowly missed on a half volley that just cleared the goal in the 78th minute, while Kenny made a diving one-handed stop on the ground, blanking the Lobos’ David Gualdarma, who was in one-on-one during the 51st minute.
In the first half, Sacramento State was called for a foul in their penalty box, resulting in a penalty kick for New Mexico. Barklage went low with a shot to the right corner and Kenny guessed correctly, but could not get a hand on the blast.
Less than a week ago in Colorado in a match against conference-leading Denver (10-3-2, 6-0-1), Sacramento State dealt the Pioneers their first blemish of the season with a 1-1 tie.
It was also the second consecutive season Sacramento State has played a ranked New Mexico squad to a 1-1 tie at Hornet Soccer Field. The Lobos, ranked second in the country at the time, went 110 minutes with the Hornets on Nov. 6, 2005. New Mexico also reached the NCAA College Cup Finals, falling 1-0 to Maryland in the championship game last season.
Rhoads now has six goals this season, increasing his career total to 19, tying for second in program history. In his fourth season with the program, Rhoads’ 47 career points also rank second all-time. For Lupercio, it was his fifth assist of the season, establishing a new career high for the Dixon, Calif., native. His 10 career assists rank fifth in program history.
Sunday will mark the Hornets’ final home match in 2006, hosting UNLV at 1 p.m. In addition to Rhoads, Lupercio, Ricks-Chambers and Echeverría, seniors Utodi Madu, Jesse Manton, Eric Ortiz, Oscar Sandoval and Andrew Tamm will be honored prior to kickoff. Sacramento State plays its final regular season game at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov.3, at San Jose State.