The University of New Mexico men’s soccer team added another midfielder to its 2018 class Monday night, as Ben Shepherd announced his commitment on .
Shepherd is a student at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado and plays club soccer for Real Colorado. He was team captain for Real Colorado’s U14 Far West champion and national runner-up team in 2014. Prior to beginning high school, he moved to Germantown, Tennessee and played for Houston High School where he was named to the All-State teams his freshman and sophomore seasons and helped the Mustangs win a state title his freshman year.
He spent his junior year playing for SSC Solar Soccer Club in Dallas, Texas before returning to Real Colorado for his senior season. Due to academy rules, Shepherd did not play for his school during his junior or senior seasons. With both clubs, Shepherd was in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which is considered the highest level of youth soccer.
In 12 games so far this season for the Real Colorado U18/19 team, Shepherd has scored twice.
A defensive-minded midfielder, Shepherd believes his best position is as a box-to-box midfielder. He chose the Lobos over Depaul University and St. Mary’s College of California and explained his decision to the Daily Lobo.
“I chose UNM as a program, because the coaches and players are all striving to be the best in the nation,” Shepherd said. “The attitude is to be the best and hardest working team. The facilities are top notch, and you can’t get a better fan base anywhere. I felt very welcomed by the players, coaches and the community.
“As a school, I could really see myself on campus and being active as a student. UNM has a great business (Anderson School of Management) and Honors College, and that is the route I’m planning on taking. Overall, I think UNM was the best place for me to develop on and off the field.”
The Lobos have had a number of players go on to professional careers in recent seasons, including , and this winter. But that didn’t really factor in to Shepherd’s decision.
“I think it shows how much quality is in the program,” he said. “I’m looking to go to college to get a degree while playing at the highest level. If I do get the opportunity to play after college I would love to, but it was not a major factor in my decision.”
Shepherd is the fifth player in the Lobos 2018 class, according to Top Drawer Soccer, and the first from Colorado. He is the third midfielder in the class, alongside Erik Virgen and Larson Rodgers.
Cameron Goeldner is a sports beat reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer and softball but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @goeldfinger.