Hours after the University of New Mexico regents and faculty bickered Tuesday over the fate of the school’s men’s soccer program, the Lobos’ rough start to the season continued.
New Mexico gave up goals five minutes apart early in the second half in losing 2-1 to UC Santa Barbara at the UNM soccer complex. It was the Lobos’ fourth loss in five games.
And it was one from which Lobos coach Jeremy Fishbein came away shaking his head as the 773 in attendance left disappointed.
“No excuses,” he said. “I don’t know what it was. We were all over them in the first half and that’s a game you have to take care of. They came here, they weren’t ready to play. And we were all over them in the first half. The game was pretty simple. It was a pretty simple game once you had the lead. We played six good teams and that was one we had to win. That was a disappointing loss. It put you in the hole.”
New Mexico (2-4) took the lead in the 38th minute when Omar Grey came off the bench to score his team-leading fourth goal. Miguel Maynez Jr. created the chance, beating a defender just outside the penalty area before delivering a touch pass to Tom Smart as he crashed through the defense. Smart passed it across the goal mouth to Grey, who finished in the opposite corner.
The lead lasted only until the eighth minute of the second half when Faouzi Taieb headed in a corner kick from Thibault Candia. And minutes later, Rodney Michael took another feed from Candia to give the Gauchos (4-2) the lead, winding past the Lobos defense and then beating goalkeeper Ford Parker to the far post.
“That was a game you needed to handle,” Fishbein said. “Two bad mistakes in the first seven minutes of the second half. It’s what we talked about. This was a game where we had to be disciplined. We couldn’t give up openings and we made two mistakes and they capitalized. They are a very talented team but there was so many gaps. That was a game for the taking. I’m pretty disappointed in our performance and maturity.”
Although Santa Barbara changed its alignment in the second half, moving a midfielder to the backline, it didn’t really have an impact in the game.
And Fishbein said his team wasn’t fatigued despite five games and extensive travel in less than two weeks.
The Gauchos “played Saturday night and they had to come out here,” he said. “They had no energy. It shouldn’t have been a game.”
Given the way New Mexico played in the second half, some personnel changes might be in store, Fishbein said.
“We have to work on maturity and guys being better players,” he said.
“It was pretty disappointing. Guys can’t see the field if they’re not going to be better. We’re going to have to make some changes. That’s probably what it’s going to come down to. Guys need to be better if they want to be on the field and they have the ability. I don’t know what else to say. That’s the first one this season that I walk away really disappointed.”
The Lobos return to action at home Saturday at 7 p.m. against Old Dominion.