Sept. 1, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Red cards hurt, just ask New Mexico's third-ranked men's soccer team.
Playing in a tight game with Michigan State in the opening round of the MSU/Radisson Fall Classic on Friday evening, a Lobos' player was sent to the bench in the 64th minute. Less than half a minute later, Spartans' junior Kenzo Webster (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) fired a dart into the net, helping the Spartans to a 1-0 win.
The win over the Lobos (0-1-1), ranked third in the National Soccer Coaches Association preseason poll and the 2005 national runners-up, gave the Spartans (3-0) their biggest upset since beating Indiana, the reigning national champion, 2-1, in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament in 2004.
"This is one of the bigger wins we have had in awhile," head coach Joe Baum said. "New Mexico has outstanding defense and offense and you have to give them credit for playing a tough game, but we did what we had to do to get the win."
After the restart from the red card, sophomore Zac Scaffidi (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) found sophomore Doug DeMartin (Mason, Mich./Mason), who passed the ball over the defense to Webster. Webster fired from the inside the left corner of the goalbox, beating the diving keeper and putting the ball in the right corner of the net for his second goal of the season.
"They play a flat back system, so I was trying to slide in behind it all game," Webster said. "Doug just made a great pass around the defender and I still had enough time to check where the goalie was and shoot it past him."
The Lobos, even while playing a man down, kept pressure on the Spartans, taking five shots in the final 36 minutes while the Spartans managed none, but couldn't get anything past senior goalkeeper Jason Tillman (Brighton, Mich./Brighton). The Spartan defense tightened the reins in the final 10 minutes, allowing just two shots, but blocking multiple Lobo attempts at getting the ball into the goalbox.
Tillman made three saves in his 14th career shutout, including a circus-like dive in the first half, as Chris Wright delivered a high shot to the center of the net from 25 yards out. Tillman dove to his left, hitting the ball with his fist in mid-air and knocking the ball out of bounds. He was also forced to make a diving stop in the 60th minute on a low shot from Brandon Barklage.
New Mexico keeper Mike Graczyk made two saves in the loss, as the Spartans took only six shots. New Mexico was plagued by fouls in the game, allowing Michigan State 19 free kicks in the game while getting only 11. The Lobos were also hindered by two yellow cards and two red cards (one called after time expired) while the Spartans received only one yellow card.
In the first game of the MSU/Radisson Fall Classic, Michigan used two first-half goals to down Northern Illinois, 2-1. In the final day of the classic on Sunday, Michigan will face New Mexico in a 12 p.m. matchup before Michigan State will host Northern Illinois at 2:30 p.m.