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UNM Soccer Team Faces Friendly Foes

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Creighton’s Staff Boasts Lobo Ties

 

Last Monday morning, University of New Mexico men’s soccer coach Jeremy Fishbein was having a telephone conversation with Jamie Clark, who coaches the men’s soccer program at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

“I don’t think we’re going to get in,” said Fishbein, convinced that his Lobos would not be selected to play in the NCAA Tournament, which begins today.

Clark is an old friend. Hired by Fishbein, he served as a UNM aide for more than four years. The men talk often.

“We talked Monday about next season and recruiting classes,” Clark remembered this week. Clark’s team, a perennial NCAA pick, had a good season. The Lobos played well against some very good teams, but experienced tough luck down the stretch.

“Jeremy called me later Monday and said, ‘We might get in,’ ” said Clark. “He figured out he had a chance.

” ‘Don’t torture yourself,’ I told him. ‘No point in getting your hopes up.’ “

Oh, those winds of fate.

Later Monday, Fishbein learned his team had been given an at-large bid to the tournament. The Lobos would face the Creighton Bluejays in the first round.

“It’s crazy,” Fishbein said. “They’re such good friends — Jamie and Jeff (Clark and Rowland, once a Lobo standout recruited by Fishbein, now a Creighton assistant).”

“Funny how it works out,” Clark said this week. “I don’t know if the NCAA has a sense of humor or not.”

“To be honest, it’s bittersweet,” said Rowland, who has been at Creighton a year, same as Clark. “It’s the one team I wouldn’t want to play against at this stage.”

Clark’s years in Albuquerque (2002-2005) were some of the best for UNM soccer.

“I was fortunate that Jeremy took me under his wing,” Clark said. “He’s a very good motivator. He asks a lot of his players and expects a lot from them. He’s a coach that says you never have to settle. You take that with you as a coach, that you can always do better.”

Before he arrived at Creighton, Clark coached for two years at Harvard. During his second year there, he brought in Rowland as a volunteer assistant. A La Cueva graduate, Rowland was a striker always on the attack. His play helped the Lobos reach the 2005 championship game, where they fell to Maryland.

Fishbein frequently talks to Rowland on the phone.

“Jeff’s a smart guy, very, very competitive — in games and practices,” Fishbein said. “We got into it a few times in practices.”

Rowland laughed at the memory. He says he still can find ways to irritate the coach he calls “Fish.”

“Hey, when I played in New Mexico I even got into it with Jamie,” Rowland said. “It’s all competitive. Afterward, we’re good.”

Rowland was drafted by the MLS and played for Real Salt Lake before knee problems cut short his playing career. But he’s happy to be coaching.

“I like it better than playing,” Rowland said. “At this level, college kids are still willing to learn. … Even at the end of the day, I’m thinking about coaching. My fiancée probably doesn’t like to hear that.”

In January, Rowland will marry Katelyn Ley, a former Lobo women’s soccer player.

“It’s going to be great sharing with Jamie and Jeff,” Fishbein said. “But when the game starts, it’s going to be about winning.”

 

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