Yeager saves the day in instant classic overtime shootout

by Peter Griego/Charley Bickel

Rio Rancho, NM - For the first time in franchise history, the New Mexico Runners played a game decided by a penalty shootout and secured the 9-8 (5-0) (4-1) victory, Sunday evening at the Rio Rancho Event Center. After a two week long road trip, starting keeper Nate Yeager sealed the win for New Mexico stopping the Bandits fifth penalty attempt in its tracks.

The Runners got off to a hot start, with an Austin Snider strike to take a 1-0 lead within the first half minute of play. New Mexico followed up the opening score with a pair of goals from Froilan Ramirez and Jaime Hernandez. The Bandits answered with a 2-0 run cutting deep into the Runners early lead. New Mexico finished the first strong, extending their lead back up to two, with Edward Oropesa and Terry Zamora both finding the open net. New Mexico's five goals in the first quarter marks a season high in first quarter scoring.

Kansas clawed their way back in the second, scoring twice more off the legs of Angel Lopez and Pablo Negro to get back within a single goal. It wasn't until under the two minute mark in the first half that the Runners would score again, with Jaime Hernandez scoring his second of the night. New Mexico, for the first time all season, held a two score lead heading into the break.

The Bandits scored immediately out of intermission, with a De La Torre connection in the first minute of the second half. Both teams would hold each other scoreless for a majority of the third, within a goal of eachother. The Runners would get back on the board at around the four minute mark, when Jaime Hernandez would score yet again, earning his hattrick. 

Despite trailing the entire match, Kansas would tie it up after a Paul Naps goal and an Angel Lopez penalty kick. Lopez would lead the Bandits with a hattrick. Nick Cashmere would score, putting the Runners up a goal with just over six minutes left in regulation. The Runners would hold the Bandits until the final minute, despite a couple of late blue cards that left them shorthanded. The Bandits would find the net in the final minute, when Chelino Sanchez scored the equalizer, effectively sending the game to overtime. 

The sudden death overtime would be a stalemate, with neither team scoring the elusive golden goal to put the match to sleep. After 10 minutes of overtime, the match would be decided by a penalty shootout. Both teams would trade penalty kicks for four rounds, with neither goalie being able to get a save. In the fifth cycle of kicks, Josh Garcia would give the Runners the advantage. Nate Yeager would get the save on the ensuing kick, helping the Runners take a 9-8 (5-4) win.

The Runners will be back in action at the Rio Rancho Event Center on February 10, at 3:05pm facing the El Paso Rhinos for the second time this season.