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Hounds tie Incarnate Word in match of ranked teams

Freedom New Mexico: Liliana Castillo Eastern midfielder Danillo Santos beats an Incarnate Word to the ball during the first half.

In a match where it looked like one goal might win it, Eastern New Mexico University’s men rallied twice in the late going.

Freshman forward Andy Wilkinson headed in a crossing pass by senior midfielder Edgar Bear on a free kick from about 40 yards out with just over five minutes left in regulation, and the Greyhounds battled Incarnate Word to a 2-2, double-overtime tie in Lone Star Conference men’s soccer on Friday at the ENMU pitch.

All four goals were scored in a span of just over 15 minutes after both teams had trouble finding opportunities most of the way.

“It was kind of a helter-skelter game,” UIW coach John Smith said. “There were points in the game where I thought I’d settle for a tie, and points where I wouldn’t have. I think a tie is a very just result.”

The Hounds (7-1-1, 2-0-1 LSC), playing their first match after earning a No. 17 national ranking this week in NCAA Division II, earned their first tie after losing all five previous matches against the Cardinals (6-1-1, 0-1-1), ranked eighth. This week’s poll was skewed because the top two teams — Cal State Los Angeles and LSC member Midwestern State — were not ranked because of a technicality.

“I think we created more scoring chances than they did,” ENMU coach Harold Munoz said. “Obviously, we didn’t capitalize on all of them, but I’m very proud of our team. To come back twice from a goal down in a span of 15 minutes, we showed a lot of fight and a lot of spirit.”

Senior forward Troy Thompson gave the Cardinals the lead twice, breaking a scoreless tie in the 70th minute and tipping in a corner kick from junior midfielder Callum Riley to make it 2-1 with less than six minutes to go.

ENMU tied it the first time when senior forward Emerson Rodrigues headed the ball over Cardinals goalkeeper Chris Fidler, who tried to come out on a cross pass well inside the box with just under 11 minutes left.

“Two very good headed goals by Eastern,” said Smith, an Englishman. “They have very good players and a very good team.

“It was difficult for us to break down their defense. They did a great job.”

Both teams have quick turnarounds, the Cardinals playing an LSC match at West Texas A&M on Sunday while the Hounds host non-league foe St. Edward’s.

Munoz said he doesn’t like the overtime rule — two sudden-death, 10-minute periods — and would prefer to leave matches tied after regulation.

“It’s very taxing on your body, especially playing those 20 minutes at the end,” he said. “Hopefully, we can bounce back Sunday.”