The Lobos will continue its preseason action Wednesday when they face Grand Canyon University for their second and last home exhibition of the year.
GCU is trying to become a top-notch soccer school. Not only is Grand Canyon getting a brand new soccer stadium this year, they also just hired a new coach with a wealth of experience.
Schellas Hyndman was the head coach for FC Dallas, a Major League Soccer team, from 2008-13. In 2010, Dallas made it to the MLS Cup Final, and Hyndman was named Coach of the Year.
Hyndman also has 31 years of collegiate soccer experience and is arriving to GCU as the sixth all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I men's soccer history with 466 wins.
With an experienced coach like Hyndman, GCU’s players are likely to provide a challenge for the Lobos. But UNM is not a team that backs down easily.
Last season, Grand Canyon ended with a 5-12-3 overall record and an NCAA rating percentage index of 162.
The Lobos finished with an 11-6-1 record and finished higher on the list with an RPI of 36. RPI is based on a team’s wins and losses and the difficulty of its schedule.
Lobo defender Francesco Casucci said he felt his team’s first exhibition against Air Force went “very well” because there was a lot of chemistry in the group. However, he said he feels the team has the opportunity to play even better Wednesday.
“We are going to have to be more focused and try not to conceive a goal,” he said. “I think we could also be more intense…. We’ve been training a lot so I think we are going to be strong.”
UNM is coming off a 2-1 exhibition win over Air Force on Saturday.
Head coach Jeremy Fishbein said he was happy with the win, but that what pleased him the most was how even though it’s early in the season, the Lobos already play as a cohesive group.
However, Fishbein said he found a few areas the Lobos could improve upon for tonight.
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“We could be a little bit more vocal. We could press a little bit more as a unit,” he said. “Probably a little more quality on the attacking third, you know, just with our service and our runs.”
During the Air Force game, more than 1,000 fans showed up despite the rain and a 45-minute lightning delay. Casucci says seeing so many supporters at the stadium was a “good surprise” and that it really motivated the team to stay focused and be the best.
“It doesn’t matter who the other team is. We can’t lose at home,” he said.
Isabel Gonzalez is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @cisabelg.