Weather conditions in Colorado forced Saturday’s game to be cancelled, which officially ended the Lobos’ spring season with a 1-3 record.
The Lobos played twice at home and twice on the road. Their first result was a 2-1 loss to Southern Methodist, a game played at the FC Dallas Complex in Texas.
New Mexico bounced back the following weekend to take a 2-1 victory at Grand Canyon University. But after a month-long break, the Lobos once again found themselves with a 2-1 loss, this time to the Air Force Academy.
Last weekend, the Lobos ended on the wrong side of a shutout, losing 1-0 to the Colorado School of Mines.
A 1-3 record is not ideal by any means, but head coach Jeremy Fishbein wasn’t sweating it. The coach said the point of the spring season was to get ready for the fall.
“I think it’s how you view the game. We’ve looked at the spring as a progression,” Fishbein said. “A lot of the things we set out to do, we did them extremely well.”
In the last few months, Fishbein said he encouraged players to push themselves and try new positions. Sophomore Aaron Herrera, for example, is listed on the roster as a defender, but this spring, he stepped into a midfield position.
With several key starters having graduated, Herrera said he is looking to become more of a game changer and a leader for the 2017-18 season.
“That’s what’s different about coming back now; there’s a lot of guys here that are starting to look up to me more and expect me to lead the team,” he said.
The Las Cruces native has shown his talent outside of New Mexico several times by being involved with the national team. His most recent accomplishment was making history by being part of the roster that won the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in March. This was the U.S.’ first CONCACAF title at the U-20 level.
Herrera’s success gives the UNM soccer program a good reputation, but the Lobos will need a little bit more than that to be successful. The biggest concern for the team this coming the fall season is going to be finishing in the attacking third.
Last season, 21 out of the 34 goals scored by the Lobos came from a combined effort from Chris Wehan and Niko Hansen, both seniors who have now moved on to pursue professional careers in the sport.
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“If you say we lost a lot of our goal scoring, that’s probably an understatement,” Fishbein said. “That’s what has kind of showed this spring, not being able to put it in the net. That’s going to be our challenge.”
However, other Lobos have been trying to step up to fill in those roles — one of those players is junior forward Luke Lawrence.
“All the juniors have stepped up and taken a leadership role,” Lawrence said. “I know I need to score goals as a forward player. Big shoes to fill because Niko and Beezer are very good players, but I believe in my ability, and I think I can do it.”
But it’s not just the players who are finding themselves in new roles and situations.
On April 20, the team announced Kelly Altman’s new role as part of Fishbein’s staff.
Altman is coming from Valparaiso University in Indiana, where he spent four seasons under Mike Avery.
"We are really excited to have Kelly join our staff," Fishbein said on a statement. "Kelly is a tremendous coach, mentor and recruiter who will help make our program better. He comes from a family passionate about soccer and is well-known to our community.”
Altman is not new to the 505 — he was raised in Albuquerque and graduated from Albuquerque Academy in 2001 before leaving to pursue his collegiate career at Trinity University in San Antonio.
“It is great to have another New Mexican join our staff,” Fishbein said.
Isabel Gonzalez is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She mainly covers men’s soccer and basketball. She can be reached at sports @dailylobo.com or on Twitter @cisabelg.