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Monday, December 22, 2014

UNM men's soccer starts off on the right foot

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By Di Linh Hoang / New Mexico Daily Lobo

UNM redshirt sophomore Christopher Wehan defends the ball from Akron blueshirt freshmen Richie Laryea during the game against Akron at the Lobo Soccer Complex on Saturday night. The Lobos won the game to a 1-0.

“Tonight’s the night! Our quest for a National Championship begins at 7 against Akron! Will you be there?”

Thus reads a status on the Lobo men’s soccer Facebook page.

Though it may be too early in the season to be talking about a national championship, the team certainly got off on the right foot.

The No. 5 New Mexico Lobos defeated the No. 13 Akron Zips 1-0 in their season opener Friday night. The match began with both teams rushing to get on the scoreboard. Just eight seconds into the match, Akron attacked and forced goalie Patrick Poblete to make a save.

The Zips’ early chance, however, did not shake the Lobos.

The team quickly dominated, and less than three minutes into the match Christopher Wehan came from the near side and found Oniel Fisher at the top of the box. Fisher took the shot that gave his team the lead.

“It was a good combination with Wehan and I,” Fisher said. “He made a nice pass and I slid it past (the keeper).”

By the end of the first half, the Lobos held an 11-3 shot advantage.

During the second half the Lobos continued to dominate, but the Zips still craved a goal of their own. Poblete said that toward the match’s end the Zips were pressuring more, but that from left to right the defense of his team was “fabulous.”

In the 88th minute a shot came at the Lobo goal, but it was blocked by midfielder Ben McKendry.

By the end of the game the Lobos had recorded 20 shots total, outshooting the Zips, who only recorded five.

UNM head coach Jeremy Fishbein said this first win was “a nice way to start,” and the team’s success is due to being resilient and disciplined.

He did add, however, that the game became more difficult than it needed to be.

“We needed that second goal. I think if we got that second goal then they would’ve come out a little more and we really could’ve opened them up,” Fishbein said.

He said he saw the 20 shots the Lobos took as something positive.

Poblete said he also feels positive about what’s coming for his team this season.

“It gives us a lot of confidence going forward,” he said. “We really believe we can push on for great things this year and to start off with a clean sheet is a great way to start the season.”

Next weekend the Lobos will host the Lobo Invitational, which will feature American University, UC Riverside and UCLA. UNM will play UC Riverside Friday at 7 p.m. and UCLA on Sunday at 6 p.m.

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