ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — You can easily spot UNM sophomore Josh Caffey on a soccer field. He has a haystack of curly blond hair and a cast on his right hand, which he broke in July. At 6-foot-3, he is among the tallest Lobos and is always around the ball.
On Friday night at the UNM Soccer Complex, before a crowd of 2,395, Caffey seemed a giant. His goal with three minutes left in the first half gave UNM (3-1-1) a 1-0 win over the University at Buffalo.
"Kyle (Venter) passed me a perfect ball and I just tapped it in," Caffey said, running a hand through his wet hair. "I had the easy part."
The goal was Caffey's first of the season and the second of his career at UNM.
Following the game, Caffey raced up into the stands to hug his parents. Ricky and Sherry Caffey live in Temple, Texas, where Josh grew up and learned to play soccer. The Caffeys made the 12-hour drive to Albuquerque, hoping their son would see some action his weekend in the Lobo Classic.
"It was worth the trip," Sherry Caffey said with great understatement.
"We just outworked them," said Josh about Buffalo (3-3-0).
Caffey said the Lobos' focus was to "put Portland behind us." Last Sunday, UNM fell to No. 15 Portland, 2-1, in the final two minutes. The loss was the same score for a game on the same field that Portland won a year ago in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"Portland's in the past," agreed UNM sophomore Travis Campbell, who played all 90 minutes Friday, shining on defense and offense.
"Anyway," said Campbell, "Sunday's a harder game."
On Sunday, the Lobos face No. 6-ranked Harvard in the final of the Lobo Classic. The Crimson fell to UC Santa Barbara earlier Friday, 2-0. The Lobos will play Harvard at noon. UC Santa Barbara squares off against Buffalo at 10 a.m.
"It will be exciting," said UNM head coach Jeremy Fishbein.
It will also be familiar. Harvard's head coach, Carl Junot, was Fishbein's assistant at UNM for six years. Mike Gracyk, a coaching assistant at Harvard, was twice UNM's team captain and a key figure in the Lobos' celebrated run to the NCAA title game in 2005.
"They're both dear friends," said Fishbein.