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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Soccer: Exhibition draw a good prep for regular season

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By Sergio Jiménez / New Mexico Daily Lobo

New Mexico forward James Rogers leaps over midfielder Kortne Ford of Denver University during the Lobos’ final exhibition game on Saturday. The Lobos and Pioneers tied 1-1 in double overtime.

The No. 5 New Mexico men’s soccer team finished its last preseason exhibition with a 1-1 draw against Denver University Saturday night at the UNM Soccer Complex.

It was not the result the Lobos were looking for, but head coach Jeremy Fishbein maintained it was good preparation for its season opener on Friday against No. 13 Akron.

The first 30 minutes of the match remained scoreless until UNM freshman Sam Gleadle deflected a rebound from a shot by midfielder Ben McKendry into the net. With that, Gleadle tallied his second goal of the exhibition season.

Two minutes later, Denver’s Ryan Dodson received a red card, leaving his team with only 10 men on the field. That did not stop the Pioneers from scoring a goal of their own three minutes before the first half was over.

The second half was scoreless, but the Lobos had the majority of the chances, outshooting the Pioneers 18-6.

The Lobos also dominated in the two overtime periods, recording five of the six shots. Yet it was still not enough for the team to break the tie.

Fishbein said that although the team did not finish the way it wanted, he did see a lot of positives from the exhibition.

“You have to close these games out,” Fishbein said. “You have to get that first goal, which we got, and then you have to get the second goal,” Fishbein said. “We had our chances and we didn’t take them, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.”

He said the team needs to be disciplined and patient, and not give openings. The Pioneers didn’t have as many chances as the Lobos did, but the team still needs to improve execution in the final third of the field.

During this year’s exhibition season, the Lobos achieved one win, one loss and one draw. The results of exhibition matches do not count toward a team’s record, but the Lobos will be starting their regular season this Friday against Akron.

“We learned a lot about ourselves these last three games,” said midfielder Chris Wehan. “I think we know our strengths and weaknesses and how to build on that. It’s going to be a long week getting ready for Akron, but I have no doubt we’re going to be ready.”

The team doesn’t get caught up in the fact that they are ranked fifth in the country, he said. The rankings are not a big deal to them, and they know what they have to do week after week.

Fishbein said he has confidence his team learned from the exhibition games and will be prepared for the first game of the season.

“I think we’re going to take a couple days and get our legs back under us,” said Fishbein. “We’re going to focus on our opener this Friday against Akron, and I think you’re going to see a really hungry, refreshed and dynamic team Friday night.”

Isabel Gonzalez is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @cisabelg.