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Victor Rodriguez steps onto the field at University Stadium last Friday. The Lobos beat the Lions 2-0 to extend their unbeaten start to the season.

Victory colored by lost opportunities

Fishbein: we got a win when we were not playing our best

The UNM men’s soccer team has finished its non-conference schedule undefeated.

The Lobos, ranked No.11 in the nation, beat Loyola Marymount 2-0 on Friday night to take UNM to 6-0-2 for the season.

Forward Devon Sandoval took over the game in the second half, providing the assist for midfielder Giovanni Rollie’s goal before scoring one of his own with a volley.

“It was good to get the win, and the real positive was we got a win when we were not playing our best,” head coach Jeremy Fishbein said. “The first half, we were real tense, and the second half was a lot better, and we scored some nice goals.”

The Lobos kept possession from the start in front of more than 2,600 fans, but failed to find a breakthrough when they got to the attacking third of the field.

Sixteen minutes in, UNM junior Blake Smith dribbled through five defenders but shot right at Lion goalkeeper Jack McCormack.

As the half wound down, Loyola found itself on a three-on-one counter attack, but failed to get a shot on goal.

Fishbein said his team didn’t play as well as it could have in the first half.

“We were a little slow in connecting passes, the first touch was off a bit,” he said.

The second half began with a flurry of chances for both teams as the Lions’ Phil Da Silva and David Ponce almost scored while McCormack saved a shot from Sandoval.

In the 63rd minute, Sandoval dribbled down the left wing and his pass found Rollie at the top of the six-yard box for an easy tap in to give the Lobos the lead.

With 15 minutes left, Sandoval doubled the Lobos’ lead when he got the ball 25 yards from goal and fired a volley past the diving McCormack into the far corner.

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The goal was Sandoval’s third in the last two games, and Rollie said that Sandoval’s goal-scoring form of late has really helped the team.

“He is on fire,” Rollie said. “He means a lot to the offense, and he has been a big part of this team through preseason and through this entire non-conference season.”

The Lobos could have scored more goals as the game wound down.

Senior Lance Rozeboom had two easy chances to score, and Smith missed a wide-open goal as well. Fishbein said that when the games get more difficult, his team will put away those easy chances.

“I think it’s a different mindset,” he said. “We are not happy with it, but they are quality players, and I feel when it comes to crunch time we are going to take our chances.”

The Lobos out-shot the Lions 19-13 and forced McCormack into seven saves, while UNM keeper Victor Rodriguez had six.

“We had two great goals and we pushed forward for a third and a fourth,” Fishbein said. “It’s a situation the guys are going to have to adjust to. They played a very good team, but if we play to our ability we are going to be successful.”

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