Lobos Unbeaten, Job Is Unfinished
How cool is undefeated?
Frosty weather notwithstanding, the top-ranked UNM men’s soccer team authored a near-perfect ending to its first unbeaten regular season Saturday night.
Not only did the Lobos knock off UNLV 3-0 at the UNM Soccer Complex, they did it in front of 5,284 bundled-up fans – the largest regular-season crowd in program history. Better still, New Mexico’s two seniors – Lance Rozeboom and Michael Green – celebrated with penalty-kick goals.
No. 1 New Mexico in MPSF tourney semifinals in Denver, time, opponent TBD
When the contest ended, a large group of fans watching from the south goal area spilled onto the field, surrounding the players and chanting, index fingers held high.
“That’s a pretty special night,” Rozeboom said. “For Michael and I to both score, and the way the fans responded, man, that was amazing.”
The Lobos completed the regular season 16-0-2 overall, 10-0-0 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. It is believed to be the first undefeated season by any UNM team since the school’s football team finished 8-0-1 in 1927.
Lobo coach Jeremy Fishbein took a solitary walk around the field after Saturday’s win, admittedly taking a moment to enjoy the occasion.
“Pretty great way to end the regular season,” Fishbein said. “These guys showed up to play on every single occasion, and tonight just capped it.”
UNM dominated most of Saturday’s action, outshooting the Rebels 17-9. The Lobos’ steady attacks earned them two penalty kicks that resulted in their first two goals.
Giovanni Rollie was taken down in the box in the 41st minute, setting up Rozeboom’s goal that made the score 1-0 at halftime. Rozeboom was later cut down by a defender in the 60th minute, and Green cashed in the PK to make it 2-0.
Frustrations boiled over for the Rebels (3-14-0, 2-8-0) in the second half as they picked up two red cards and three yellows in the final 30 minutes. With a two-player advantage late, Fishbein substituted freely, and his team added a late rebound goal by Lawrence Robledo to cap the scoring.
The Lobos are the top seed for this week’s MPSF tournament in Denver and will receive a bye to Friday’s semifinals. Their opponent is to be determined.
“We need to remember that our goals go beyond the regular season,” Rozeboom said, “but we do have to enjoy this a little bit. Undefeated is a great accomplishment.”
UNM WOMEN: The Lobos (11-4-4) will try to punch an NCAA Tournament ticket today when they play host to Wyoming (12-5-4) in the Mountain West Conference tournament championship match at noon. Neither program has won an MWC tournament title.
The Lobos and Cowgirls battled to a 1-1 draw last month in Albuquerque, with UNM’s Natalie Jenks scoring the tying goal with 28 seconds left in regulation. Today’s battle between top-seeded UNM and No. 3 Wyoming figures to be tight as well.
“No ties this time,” said Lobo senior Jennifer Williams. “Wyoming’s a good, physical team, but we’re excited to try to redeem ourselves and come out with a win this time. It’s gonna be a great game.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal