Runners edged out in defensive showcase
Coming off a doubleheader last week against the Amarillo Bombers, the New Mexico Runners took to the field Saturday evening for a rematch against the Omaha Kings FC whom the Runners opened their season against with a doubleheader back in mid December 2021. Having contained the Kings offense the Runner found themselves narrowly edged out by a score of 7-8.
New Mexico continued their trend of scoring first at home with Sergio Fuentes breaking the goal line at 11:17 in the first period. Omaha would go on to score four unanswered goals spurred by a penalty kick goal by Christian Sanchez extending the lead to 1-4 with eight minutes to go until halftime. True to form, the Runners responded positively to the deficit, scoring three straight goals in the final eight minutes of the first half, carrying a 4-4 tie into the break. Notably, New Mexico out shot the Kings 17-9 in the first half, going on to win the shots on goal battle for the first time all season by a margin of 26-17. The Runners also put together their cleanest game of the season recording only four penalties on the night.
New Mexico came out swinging in the third as Isaiah Madrid, the only single goal scorer of the game, gave the Runners the lead back. Omaha responded, tying the game once again off a shot from Mario Bueso but that would be the last goal scored by either team throughout the rest of the quarter despite attempting seven total shots. Starting Goalkeeper Nate Yeager finished with ten saves on 17 shots, three of which came during the crucial third period. Yeager was pulled late in the fourth in favor of sixth attacker Jaxn Rogers. Trailing by two scores with just over three minutes to go, New Mexico gave its loyal fan base a thrilling finish. With no goalkeeper to speak of New Mexico rallied to hold Omaha scoreless down the stretch, while on the offensive side Fuentes hit Midfielder Jacob Gandarilla to bring the Runners within a single goal of forcing overtime. Within the final ten seconds, the Runners attempted three shots but came up short and the clock hit zero with the Kings carrying their one goal lead to the finish. Saturday's game marked the Runners best defensive performance of the year holding the Kings to just eight goals scored.
The Runners are back on the road next week traveling to Witchita to face the undefeated Wings. Kickoff is at 6:00 PM MST on January 15th. Fans can watch the game live on the Witchita Wings Facebook page. New Mexico will be back in action at the Rio Rancho Events Center on January 22nd at 5:05 PM MST to face the Rio Grande Valley Barracudas FC, doors open an hour before kickoff. Tickets can be purchase from newmexicorunners.com or from the Rio Rancho Event Center ticket office.