The UNM men’s soccer team kicked off the 2015 fall sports season with a 2-1 win over Air Force during an exhibition game Saturday.
Light rain was frequent, and a 42-minute lightning delay interrupted the first half of the match. However, unpleasant weather was not enough to stop the 1,180 fans who came to support their team.
“That was awesome,” head coach Jeremy Fishbein said. “People are behind this team, and you can feel their energy.”
The Lobos began their attacks early, but were not able to find the back of the net right away. Sixteen minutes into the match, redshirt junior midfielder Chris Wehan was awarded a penalty kick. His shot was on-target, but Air Force keeper John Wendt was able to make the save.
The first point on the scoreboard came from Lobo redshirt junior defender Nicholas Rochowski in the 56th minute. His goal came thanks to a cross sent by freshman defender Francesco Casucci.
“I was real happy with the performance. It was great to get the win,” Fishbein said. “It’s just a real cohesive group. They enjoy playing with each other and for each other. That’s probably what I’m most happy about.”
The Lobos added another goal to their lead during the 84th minute when redshirt freshman Matt Dorsey, assisted by Wehan, made a shot from six yards away.
It looked as if the Lobos would achieve a shutout. However, Air Force’s Abinadi Samayoa managed to score unassisted with only 22 seconds left on the clock.
After the end of regulation time, both teams decided to play an extra 30 minutes to give their players some extra preseason practice.
With only two seniors this season, UNM’s team is made up of a lot of young players. This makes exhibitions even more important for the Lobos.
“[Exhibitions] let us test what we do in practice,” redshirt senior midfielder Adrian Mora said. “It also helps the new guys to get to know the system and for us to know how they fit into that system.”
Fishbein said it’s always good to give the new guys some minutes because it will give them the needed experience and push them to be better.
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“You want to win, but that’s not the first priority,” Fishbein said. “We get three exhibitions, so I think by the end of the three we’ll have a good sense of who we are and where our guys are at this point in the season. We’ll be ready to go.”
Although Fishbein said he was happy with his team’s performance on Saturday, he also said there were “a few things here and there” that could be improved.
However, the coach said that early in the season there is little need for worry.
“I think you are going to see those things sharpen up as time goes by,” he said.
The Lobos will host Grand Canyon University Wednesday at a 7 p.m. for their final home exhibition of the season.
Isabel Gonzalez is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @cisabelg.