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Realigned conference still a rigorous road

If the UNM men’s soccer team took one small step with its nonconference schedule this season, its making one giant leap to reclaim what the Lobos rightfully owned for four years: the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title.

The MPSF restructured the league into two four-team divisions, but that doesn’t matter to the Lobos. After losing out on last year’s title to Denver, they look to make amends and open conference play against UNLV at the UNM Soccer Complex on Friday.

“I think it’s going to be a battle,” head coach Jeremy Fishbein said. “The real key thing is for us to come out strong and not let them get confidence.”

UNM is coming off an emotional 1-0 loss at Dartmouth on Saturday, in which the Lobos lost midfielder Ryan Farquharson for the season to a broken leg.

The Lobos have compiled a 3-2-2 record, but have played against five nationally ranked teams.
“It’s a little bit of a second life when we come into our conference play,” Fishbein said. “We feel our nonconference should have been better, and our challenge will be to continue to get better. We are all looking forward to getting back on the field, and I am very optimistic about the season.”

UNM previously won four straight conference titles, but fizzled out the last two seasons, finishing second both years.
Still, the Lobos were picked to finish first in the MPSF preseason poll this season.

Defender Michael Reed said teams will be gunning for the Lobos since they were picked to win the conference.


Force, Denver and UNLV join the Lobos in the Mountain division and each will play each other twice, once at home and once away.
The Pacific Division consists of Sacramento State, California State Bakersfield, San Jose State and Seattle University. UNM will play each of those teams one time during conference play, either at home or on the road.

“You can take your pick as to what team is going to be good,” Reed said. “They all bring something different to the table and are going to be hard to beat.”

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