ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico men's soccer program continued it's lockdown, defensive ways Friday evening as they recorded their seventh-straight shutout in their 3-0 victory over Denver University (11-6-3) in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
"I thought the first 25 minutes we were fantastic. I was real happy with how we came out, and you really couldn't ask for anything more. I thought with that pressure and ball speed, we were really good," said Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein.
The Lobos came out firing in the game's first thirty minutes of the match. Freshman Ben McKendry, recently named the 2012 MPSF Newcomer of the Year, showed the pedigree that earned him that distinction. McKendry put himself in the position for a pair of goals.
The Vancouver, British Columbia native tallied his first goal (fifth of the season) in the 22nd minute. After a Nik Robson shot was blocked, McKendry and Devon Sandoval converged on the rebound. Sandoval took one quick touch before the freshman midfielder poked in the match's first game.
McKendry would find the back of the net again less than nine minutes later. After using his feet for his first goal, the midfielder would head home his and the Lobos' second goal of the match. It was a header-to-header connection as McKendry redirected a Levi Rossi header for the goal.
The two-goal advantage at halftime was the result of UNM's 10-1 shot advantage over Denver in the match's first 45 minutes.
New Mexico Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein was true to his word in extending the playing rotations and trying to spread the minutes among the bench. Fishbein played eight Lobos off the bench in the match, which included goalkeeper Patrick Poblete who spelled Victor Rodriguez for the second half.
Victor Rodriguez's night ended with no saves after only facing one shot. Poblete's shift in goal was more eventful. Just 2:36 into the half, New Mexico was whistled for a handball in the box. The Pioneers were given a penalty kick, but Poblete stopped the Zach Bolden penalty kick for the crucial save.
The Lobos would be given a penalty kick of their own in the 54th minute. Nik Robson took full advantage of the opportunity as he beat DU keeper Oliver Brown for his fifth goal of the season. The three-goal advantage would hold as the Lobos walked away with a spot in the tournament finals.
"It was another shutout, our seventh in a row, and I don't think there's much more you can ask for. We are excited to play Air Force on Sunday with a lot to prove to ourselves. I think it will be a great game."
The Lobos' seventh consecutive shutout (eleventh of the season) extends the team's streak to 645 minutes without conceding a goal. The Lobos will face Air Force in the championship match. The Falcons were the last team to score a goal against and defeat the Lobos with their 2-1 victory in Colorado Springs on October 12. New Mexico will be going for their fourth MPSF Tournament championship and twelfth overall MPSF title in Sunday's finale. The Lobos and the Falcons will meet up at 1 p.m. on Sunday, November 11 at the UNM Soccer Complex.