Freedom New Mexico: Clarence Plank ENMU freshman midfielder Andy Wilkinson, left, fends off Texas A&M International sophomore defender Adan Villavicencio as he works to get to the ball on Friday at the ENMU pitch.
PORTALES — The Eastern New Mexico University and Texas A&M International men’s soccer teams played to a tie in the truest sense on Friday — neither team was satisfied.
Trailing 2-0 at halftime, the Laredo-based Dustdevils played a man down rest of the way but salvaged a 2-2 tie with the Greyhounds at the ENMU pitch.
A&M International’s Abel Villavicencio got a red card late in the half for what officials ruled was unnecessarily rough play trying to pry the ball from ENMU goalkeeper Orlando Rodriguez, who was trying to protect the ball near his endline.
But the Dustdevils (7-5-1), who had won four of five previous matches against ENMU, rallied with goals from junior midfielder Christian Salazar and junior forward Luis Salas in the first 21:15 of the second half.
Neither team scored again, though both had chances.
And neither side was happy with the officiating. The teams drew eight yellow cards in addition to Villavicencio’s red, which will keep him from playing on Sunday at West Texas A&M.
Sophomore midfielder Kal Herbert scored ENMU’s first goal, on a through pass from Pablo Quintana, and freshman defender Jehmaine Brooks made it 2-0 by heading in a perfect ball on a free kick by Diego Santos in the 27th minute.
“To be honest, we came out really asleep in the first half,” Dustdevils coach Claudio Arias said. “The second half the guys woke up a little bit. We were one man down, and we made some adjustments.”
ENMU coach Harold Munoz, not surprisingly, felt just the opposite.
“We weren’t mentally tough (in the second half), and we stopped working,” he said. “The first half we did great; the second half we did horrible. Everybody thought someone else was going to get the ball.”
The Hounds, already without standout senior forward Emerson Rodrigues (ankle injury), also lost freshman midfielder Andy Wilkinson to an apparent neck injury in the second half. Wilkinson was taken off the field by ambulance, and Munoz said he doesn’t expect him to play Sunday when the Hounds (8-3-2) host St. Mary’s in an 11:30 a.m. start.
Rodrigues, hurt a couple of weeks ago in a 3-1 home loss to St. Edward’s, has now missed three matches should be back for Wednesday’s Lone Star Conference tilt with West Texas A&M at Canyon, Texas, Munoz said.
“You need a ref that can control the game,” Munoz said. “They let the game get out of hand.”
Arias said he was pleased with how his team managed to regroup.
“This is probably the best (Eastern) team we’ve played,” he said. “It was unfortunate they lost (Wilkinson); he was causing problems for us. But it’s hard to have to play a good team with 10 (instead of 11).”