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Sophomore forward James Rogers tackles midfielder Jesus Sanchez of Cal State Bakersfield on Oct. 21. The Lobos will play Houston Baptist in their regular season finale.

Coach may tie wins record

sports@dailylobo.com
@cnaranjo7

A win in Saturday’s regular season finale will put UNM men’s head soccer coach Jeremy Fishbein on par with his predecessor. If the Lobos defeat Houston Baptist, Fishbein will garner his 152nd win as Lobo head coach. That mark would tie the all-time wins record at UNM, currently held by Klaus Weber.

Associate head coach Paul Souders said few people are aware of the record.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard of it,” he said. “But that’s a tribute to how he does things — he’s more worried about reaching our potential. We’re proud of him. Those things do represent that we have a great leader. It validates that everything he’s done is right.”

Senior forward Devon Sandoval said Fishbein persuaded him to transfer to New Mexico after his freshman season at San Diego State University.

“I’m happy for him; he’s really pushed me to where I am now and to be the best I can be,” Sandoval said. “I couldn’t thank him enough for that. The times that he was hardest on me were the memories I’ll remember. It wasn’t fun at the time, but it definitely helped.”

In 2013, the Lobos (14-3-0, 7-2-0 MPSF) will switch to Conference USA from the MPSF. Consequently, they will play their last regular season matchup as a member of the MPSF versus the Huskies (4-9-2, 2-5-2 MPSF).

With last weekend’s sweep of San Jose State and Seattle, the No. 11 RPI ranked Lobos collected their eighth regular season conference title since 2001 and clinched the No. 1 seed in the MPSF Tournament, which allots a first-round bye.

Souders said that the focus and attention still remains on the Huskies, despite the fact that the game has no immediate impact on the MPSF standings.

“There’s still quite a bit to play for. At this point, we’re confident we will make it into the NCAA tournament, but there are still a few goals in place,” Souders said. “We wanted to win the regular season championship and the tournament championship. Every game is important in terms of seeding. As long as games are being played, we need to be sure to win them.”

Senior goalie Victor Rodriguez is suspended for the first NCAA Tournament game for shouting at a University of South Florida player and then punching him in the face following a 6-5 shootout loss last season. To minimize any inexperience at the net, the Lobos plan on starting Rodriguez against the Huskies, but also plan to play redshirt sophomore goalie Patrick Poblete.

Saturday’s contest is also Senior Night, which will honor the six seniors on this year’s squad: Sandoval, Rodriguez, forward Blake Smith, midfielder Nik Robson, defender Travis Campbell and forward Levi Rossi.

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Robson, who transferred from the University of Central Florida, said he recognized the quality of the senior class fairly quickly during his only season at UNM.

“Everyone is driven and has aspirations,” Robson said. “Having an average year is not okay with anyone in this class.”

Souders said the 2012-2013 senior class is made up of players who helped turn the team around. The Lobos missed the NCAA Tournament in 2008, a year before the current seniors made an appearance.

“This group bought into the history of the program. They came into a time when we were redefining ourselves,” Souders said. “They were a huge part of the redefining of UNM soccer.”

Men’s soccer vs. Houston Baptist
7 p.m.
Saturday
UNM Soccer Complex

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