Runners down undefeated Wings, defense wins the day
Wichita, KS (January 15, 2022) - Late Saturday evening, the New Mexico Runners (1-5) stunned the MASL M2, Wings fans at the Hartman Arena, and quite possibly their fans watching from home as they claimed their first win of the season in a hard fought 7-6 victory over the previously undefeated Wichita Wings (4-1). Saturday's victory marked New Mexico's first in 742 days since the Runners defeated the Colorado Rumble at home on January 4, 2020 by a franchise record margin of victory 15-4. This game also served as New Mexico's first win against the Wings in franchise history improving their overall series record to 1-2 having previously lost to Wichita and home and on the road during the 2019-20 season.
True to form, New Mexico struck first for the third time this season. Team captain Froilan Ramirez got on the board seven minutes into the contest off a free kick play from Jaxn Rodgers. The opening goal proved to be the difference in the ballgame as the Wings managed to tie the game three times but failed to claim the lead as the Runners offense answered each goal with an equalizer. New Mexico held Wichita to a season low two goals in the first half carrying a 2-2 tie into the break.
New Mexico's offense exploded in the third, outscoring the Wings 5-3 to take a commanding 7-5 lead into the final frame. Two of Froilan Ramirez' three goals came during the crucial third quarter with Sergio Fuentes and newcomer Mehrshad Ahmadi also getting in on the action. Ahmadi scored his first two career goals in a Runner's uniform Saturday night with the latter coming at the five second mark of the third quarter cementing New Mexico's two goal advantage. The Runners didn't record a goal in the fourth quarter but that proved inconsequential as the defense took over down the stretch. Starting Goalkeeper Nate Yeager finished with a career high 23 saves while allowing just six goals for a staggeringly high save percentage 79.3%. Colton Oord also chipped in defensively blocking two critical shots in the fourth that would have tied the contest and likely forced overtime.
The win bumps New Mexico up to 1-5 on the season, while the Wichita Wings drop to 4-1. Next up the Runners return home to face the Rio Grande Valley Barracudas FC on January 22, 2022 at the Rio Rancho Events Center at 5:05 PM MST. Tickets can be purchased at newmexicorunners.com/tickets or at the Rio Rancho Events Center Box Office.