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Fishbein: Lobos can’t look ahead to playing No. 1 UCLA

The events of this weekend have been much anticipated for the University of New Mexico men’s soccer team.

For the UNM women, they’ve been much delayed.

The Lobo men, ranked sixth nationally, are hosts of the Grange and Ashwill Memorial Tournament that begins today. The Lobos host UC Riverside tonight the UNM Soccer Complex – and then welcome a showdown at 6 p.m. Sunday with No. 1-ranked UCLA.

“The focus entirely is on Friday night,” UNM coach Jeremy Fishbein said earlier this week, “in theory.”

The Lobos are coming off an encouraging 1-0 home win last Friday over No. 13 Akron to begin 2014. Oniel Fisher was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week; his decisive goal in the third minute was one of his three shots, two on goal.

Fans eager to see UCLA can get a look today when the Bruins meet American at 4:30 p.m. at the Soccer Complex. The Lobos will face a Riverside team coming off a dominating 5-1 victory over Pacific. The Highlanders’ Michael Salazar had seven points (three goals, one assist) in the match.

UCLA is headlined by 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year and Hermann Trophy finalist Leo Stolz. The Bruins won two road games to open the season – at No. 11 Wake Forest and No. 10 North Carolina.

“I hope we have standing-room only both Friday and Sunday night,” Fishbein said.

Meanwhile, the Lobo women finally get to kick off their season two weeks after it originally was supposed to start. With coach Kit Vela’s team involved in a preseason hazing scandal, UNM athletic director Paul Krebs canceled the scheduled Aug. 22 opener at Texas Tech while an investigation continued.

The aftermath of the scandal cost the squad two players, who quit the team, and 21 one-game, player suspensions, the school said.

Eight of the players: Laura DeMers, Ari Jo Eddings, Maddie Parker, Lauren Shull, Annie Wheeler, Eileen Zendejas, Cassie Hanon and Katie Hinman must sit out today’s game, according to the school.

Marquette was ranked 15th in the preseason coaches’ poll but has stumbled to a 1-2 start.

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