Two games in, the Lobos are still looking for their first Conference USA win of the season.
New Mexico’s next opportunity will be on Saturday when they go on the road to face No. 11 Old Dominion. But this won’t be an easy match.
The Lobos will be missing one of their starting players, Aaron Herrera. The freshman defender was called up to the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team for a tournament in Germany this weekend.
This is not the first time the 18-year-old Las Cruces native received notice at a national level. Herrera scored a bicycle kick goal for the Real Salt Lake U-18 team during its 9-0 win over Arsenal FC back in March.
The video went viral and was featured on TopDrawerSoccer, SoccerByIves and the MLS’ website. The video was also featured on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays at the No. 3 spot.
Herrera has started all but one of UNM’s games this season. He leads all freshmen Lobos when it comes to minutes played. His recorded 810 minutes are sixth on the team this season.
UNM head coach Jeremy Fishbein said he is happy for Herrera and that he hopes to see other players step up during his absence.
"It's a compliment and it's great for the guys," Fishbein said, "but it's our challenge not to let that disrupt us.”
With or without Herrera, the Lobos will have to stay focused if they want to compete with Old Dominion. The Lobos (6-3-1, 0-2-0 C-USA) are coming off a 1-0 double overtime loss to the Kentucky Wildcats.
Fishbein said the Lobos failed to create good chances and that they let the Wildcat defense get the best of them.
“That was a hard one to swallow for us,” he said. “Kentucky was content to defend. To their credit, they did a good job of it. Just a heart breaker, with 1:23 left in overtime, we lost the game.”
Fishbein said the Lobos are going to take away some lessons from the Kentucky loss so they can take on the next challenge with confidence.
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“It’s going to be a real test of our character to see if we can regroup and play with the passion, and the expectations we need to have to beat a good team like Old Dominion on the road,” he said.
ODU (6-1-1, 2-0-1 C-USA) claimed the 2014 Conference USA Men's Soccer Championship title. This season, the Monarchs are looking for a repeat.
They are currently on a seven-game unbeaten streak, having taken down the Florida Atlantic University Owls, 2-1, in double overtime on Saturday night.
UNM recorded a 4-0 shutout against ODU last year during the regular season. But the Monarchs went on to take the Lobos out of the 2014 C-USA Championship with a 2-1 victory in the opening round.
Fishbein said he thinks his team is capable of taking down any opponent, as long as the Lobos remain focused and approach every game like it’s a big game.
“I just don’t think it does any good to put added pressure on a game or look too far down the road,” he said. “We have to be good every game. We have six conference games left.”
Isabel Gonzalez is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cisabelg.