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Tournament to play out on Lobos’ turf

sports@dailylobo.com
@cnaranjo7

The UNM men’s soccer team will play its final Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament this weekend. The Lobos hope they can win a fourth tournament title before they switch to Conference USA next season.

The competition begins tonight at the UNM Soccer Complex with a matchup between No. 3 seed Air Force and No. 6 UNLV. Following that match, No. 4 Denver University will face off against No. 5 San Jose State.

The top two seeds, No. 1 New Mexico and No. 2 Cal State Bakersfield, received a first-round bye and will play the winners in the quarterfinal Friday. The Lobos will face the lowest seed remaining, while the Roadrunners will face the highest remaining seed.

The championship match will be on Sunday.

Although the No. 12 Rating Percentage Index ranked Lobos (15-3-0, 8-2-0 MPSF) won the regular season conference title, they will compete against some tough squads in the coming tournament, said associate head coach Paul Souders.

“It’s intense. For the other teams, it’s their last chance. You’re going to get everyone’s best because there is desperation from the opponents,” Souders said.

The NCAA tournament is composed of the 22 conference-tournament winners and 26 at-large bids. For most MPSF members, the only way in is through an automatic bid via conference tournament championship.

Souders said that even though New Mexico would most likely receive an at-large bid if it lost the conference tournament, the Lobos still seek another conference crown.

The NCAA Tournament Selection Show announcing the teams, seeds and campus sites for the NCAA tournament will be aired Nov. 12, after the conference tournaments.

For the first time, the MPSF tournament is in Albuquerque, which benefits UNM, said junior defender Kyle Venter.

“It gives us every advantage that we need. We get to sleep in our own beds, get the ice baths, the care and the ability to be in front of our fans,” Venter said.

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Behind all the conference hoopla, a personal milestone could also be reached at the match. Head coach Jeremy Fishbein has the chance to record his 153rd victory and become the winningest soccer coach in UNM history.

The Lobos’ first run in the MPSF was from 1992-1995; they returned in 1999. UNM has only won three MPSF conference tournament championships, in 2001, 2002 and 2011.

MPSF Tournament begins today at the UNM Soccer Complex

UNLV vs. Air Force
5 p.m.

Denver vs. San Jose State
7:30 p.m.

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