Runners Finish Strong, Win Season Four Finale 10-9

by Charley Bickel/Peter Griego

Rio Rancho, NM (March 18th, 2023) - The New Mexico Runners won their final game of season four at the Rio Rancho Events Center 10-9 against the Kansas Bandits. Tonight's win cemented the Runners season record against the Bandits 2-1 with a series split at home. Hector Castaneda got the start in goal, with Nate Yeager relieving him at halftime. The pair combined for nine saves on 21 shots from the Bandits. It was a nip and tuck game throughout the first half, with neither team extending their lead beyond two scores before the half. Starting Forward Mehrshad Ahmadi gave New Mexico the early lead with 2:19 left in the first frame off a cross from Defender Jaxn Rogers. The Runners and Bandits traded blows throughout the second, with Midfielder Diego Oliveras cutting the deficit to one off a penalty kick late in the period. A late lift from Midfielder Austin Snider gave the Runners a two goal edge heading into the break.

The Runners offense ignited in the third period, scoring three unanswered goals with 18 minutes left in the season. The run featured a pair of goals from Ahmadi, bringing his season total to 38, to further extend his league best scoring lead. Ahmadi finished the game game with a hat trick and a pair of assists, with Rogers and Midfielder Josh Garcia each contributing two scores. Kansas made the game nail biter in the fourth, closing New Mexico's game high lead to just a single goal, with 1:21 left in the game. Tempers were flaring as the final 60 seconds saw the only yellow card of the match, with Oliveras collecting a blue and a yellow for unsportsmanlike conduct at the 0:44 mark. The Runners remained calm and collected, playing solid defense, and denying the Bandits the opportunity for a tie and the potential overtime victory. 

Season four was a year of firsts, and career milestones for New Mexico Runners and their players. In his second year in the league, Ahmadi's goal production skyrocketed, averaging more than three goals per game, and 48 total points. Head Coach Steve Famigletta scored a goal in a professional match for the first time in 26 years, making him the oldest player to score in MASL2 history. The Runners got off to their best start in franchise history, going undefeated in their first three outings, finishing a franchise best third in the Midwest Division behind Wichita and Amarillo. Despite a mid season slump, New Mexico came together to close out the season with a victory. The Runners will look to carry this momentum through the offseason, into year five, which is slated to kick off December of 2023. Season tickets can be purchased here.

On behalf of the entire New Mexico Runners organization, Thank you to all our fans for a great season four.