UNM recorded its first win of the season against Boise State in convincing fashion, winning three singles matches and two doubles matches.
It was a much needed victory for the squad after opening the season with four straight losses.
The beginning of the 2017 campaign was always going to be tough for the Lobos, as they faced ranked opponents UCLA, the No. 6 team in the nation, and other high profile teams such as Texas Tech and UCF.
UCLA finished last season ranked as the number two team in the country, while Texas Tech ended up just outside the top 10 at No. 11.
The Lobos fared well against their first four opponents contrary to what the final scores may have suggested. Despite losing the matches, head coach Ben Dunbar said he was confident that his team would begin to pick up positive results.
The hard work and fight the squad displayed in their previous matches was on exhibit again in their fifth match of the season. But this time, they were rewarded for it, beating Boise 4-0 in less than two hours.
The Lobos and the Broncos have a competitive history, exchanging victories throughout the last few seasons. Their most recent encounter was in the spring of 2016, where the Broncos managed to win 4-1.
In the 2015 season UNM and Boise met twice, with the Lobos winning the first fixture 4-0 and losing the second 4-2 in the final conference game of the year.
“We’ve lost to them (Boise) in the final of the conference three or four times in the last ten years, and traditionally we have a hot rivalry with them.” Dunbar said. “It’s always an absolute battle when we play against them.”
In doubles, UNM junior Bart Van Leijsen and freshman Dominic West won 6-3 at the No. 2 position against sophomore Kyle Butters and freshman Harvey Shackleton.
UNM juniors Sean Baklini and Jorge Escutia won No. 3 doubles 6-3 against sophomore duo Pedro Platzeck and Greg Wischer, gifting UNM the doubles point.
Lobo senior Rodolfo Jauregui and sophomore Ricky Hernandez-Tong were unable to win their doubles match, losing out to freshman Brian Tran and sophomore Jack Heslin 6-4.
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In singles, Van Leijsen defeated Butters 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 1 position. Soon after, the Lobos won at the No. 6 position, as Baklini beat Shackleton 6-2, 6-4. And at No. 4, West proved to be too much for Platzeck, winning 6-1, 6-3 and confirming a 4-0 Lobo victory.
“Even though we were 0-4 on the season, I didn’t feel unconfident about where we were,” Dunbar said. “I knew that if we could put it together good things would happen for us. The players have stuck with it and continued to work hard in practice. I’m really proud of them.”
The Lobos will have two weeks without matches before traveling to San Luis Obispo, California for their next set of weekend matches, facing Loyola Marymount and Cal Poly on Feb. 11 and 12, respectively.
Matthieu Cartron is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers women’s soccer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cartron_matt.