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Michael Kafari races to the ball against a Cal State Bakersfield player last Sunday in Denver at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament. The Lobos are the No.10 seed in the NCAA tournament and take on Duke this Sunday evening.

Undefeated, still disrespected

The No. 1 men’s soccer team is the No. 10 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

If that doesn’t quite make sense to you, you’re not alone. The team and the Lobo faithfuls are equally confused.

The Lobos finished the season as the only team in the country to go undefeated with a 17-0-3 record, including winning the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular season and tournament titles.
The NCAA has deemed that nine teams in the country are better than the Lobos, and deserving of a higher seed.

To be fair, the Lobos don’t deserve the top seeds regardless of their undefeated record. They have yet to play a true top team.

Only two of the teams they played this season, Akron and Cal State Bakersfield, made the NCAA tournament, with the Lobos going 1-0-2 against those teams.

UNM deserves the fourth seed yet no higher than the sixth. The Lobos are 9-0-0 at home this season and it is a huge blow to be named the No. 10 because it means the they are only guaranteed one home game, but they do have a bye for the first round.

If the Lobos are to make it to the final four they most likely need to win two games on the road.

There is hope for the Lobos, as last year Michigan was the No. 10 seed in the tournament though they lost in the final.

Boston College, SMU, UC Irvine and St. John’s all had at least five losses during the regular season, yet have a higher seed than the Lobos, who didn’t lose a game.

The lack of respect from the NCAA may be just the extra push the Lobos need this year to go one step further than 2005 and win the national championship.

A team that was not even ranked in the top 25 at the beginning of the season finished No. 1 and has proven time and again that it can win at home and on the road and come from behind in games.

The Lobos play Duke, who beat Georgia State 1-0 last night in the first round of the tournament.

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The Blue Devils are led by reigning Atlantic Coast Conference offensive player of the year Andrew Wenger, who has 17 goals and eight assists of the season.

This Sunday in front of a packed home crowd I don’t think UNM will have any problems securing a win if they can shut down Wenger, and, barring an upset, they will most likely travel to Florida to take on seventh-seeded University of South Florida.

USF is currently 12-3-3 on the year but lost its last game in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament to Villanova.

The Bulls faced six teams ranked in the top 25 this season, beating five of them, including eight seeded UC Irvine 2-0.

If the Lobos win in Florida, it will most likely set up a rematch with No. 2 seed Creighton. Last season UNM faced Creighton in the first round of the tournament where they were thoroughly outplayed in a 4-1 defeat.

The Bluejays are 18-2-0 on the season and have the most wins of any team in the country this season, and if the Lobos make it that far it will be their toughest test.

To be the best you have to beat the best, and in college soccer any team can beat any other team on any given day. Head coach Jeremy Fishbein has instilled in his players to take it one game at a time, and I can guarantee none of them are thinking about the game against USF until the game on Sunday is won.

It’s not going to be easy but the Lobos have a real chance of going far in the tournament if they continue to play their style of soccer, and with the chip on their shoulder they are out to prove to the country that they are much better than a No. 10 seed.

Men’s Soccer vs. Duke
Sunday 7 p.m.
University Stadium

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