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Head mens soccer coach Jeremy Fishbein critiques his players in regards to their first fall 2016 practice. 

Head mens soccer coach Jeremy Fishbein critiques his players in regards to their first fall 2016 practice. 

Men's Soccer: Lobos look to right the ship in 2016

After a long summer break, players and coaches returned to Robertson Field for the first official Lobo men’s soccer practice of the season on Wednesday morning.

“I’ve been anxiously awaiting today and came away feeling great. I really like this team,” said head coach Jeremy Fishbein. “Energy levels were good today. The players where fit, sharp, unified. All you could ask for, for a first practice.”

The Lobos are coming off an undefeated spring exhibition season, which helped them regain some confidence after their 2015 fall season, when they missed the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

Fishbein said the five seniors on this year's roster will be helpful to the team in terms of maturity and leadership.

“The key right now is last year was last year. Spring was spring. This is a new team,” he said. “Any time you have new guys and different dynamics, it’s a new team. As far as what I’ve seen and knowing the individuals, this is a great team.”

This “new team” caught a lot of eyes during National Signing Day in February, when UNM got what Top Drawer Soccer ranked as the fifth-best recruiting class in the nation.

On Wednesday’s practice, there were a few changes regarding this new batch of players.

Ethan Zubak, one of the original members of the recruiting class, was not at training. The 18-year-old forward signed a contract with LA Galaxy II back in May, foregoing his collegiate eligibility.

Then earlier this month the team announced two new additions to the roster, Rafael Jimenez and Billy Jones.

Jimenez has experience with some high profile Spanish soccer academies: Real Madrid, Club Atlético de Madrid and Villarreal CF.

The defender/midfielder also has experience at an international level; he represented Australia’s youth national team at the U19 and U20 levels.

Jones’ resume is just as impressive.

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The midfielder competed with Onehunga Sports Club since he was 12 years old, spent time as a youth player with the ASPIRE Academy in Qatar and participated in the 2015 U17 World Cup and the OFC Qualifying Tournament with the New Zealand Youth National Team.

Fishbein said although the two new players haven’t spent a lot of time with the Lobos yet, he thinks both will fit in well at UNM.

“They’re here, they’re ready, they’re excited,” he said. “It’s just how quickly they can acclimate to everything. Mainly the green chile, I think.”

Fishbein said he expects every player, new or veteran, to step up this season and that a key to success will be to maintain good team chemistry.

The Lobos will spend the rest of the week preparing for next week’s exhibition matches, all which will be played at home: UNLV on Monday, Fort Lewis on Thursday, and Washington on Saturday.

Isabel Gonzalez is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @cisabelg.

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