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Lobo Quartet Lead Far West All-Region Teams

Article Written by Matt Ensor
Published: December 10, 2012

KANSAS CITY, K.S. – The National Soccer Coaches Association of America has released its 2012 All-Region teams, and the University of New Mexico men’s soccer team landed four student-athletes on the NSCAA’s Far West All-Region teams. Devon Sandoval, Blake Smith and Kyle Venter were named First Team All-Far West Region while Michael Calderon was named to the All-Far West Region Third Team. New Mexico tied UCLA for placing the most players on All-Region teams at four. UNM was the only program in the region to place three student-athletes on the All-Region First Team.

The quartet gives the Lobo Soccer program 35 All-Region award winners in the Jeremy Fishbein era (2002- present). The four All-Region players in one season is the second most in program history behind last season’s five All-Region players. Sandoval, Smith and Venter were Far West All-Region team members last season as well.

For Devon Sandoval, the all-region selection caps off a tremendous span of awards. Sandoval was voted Second Team All-America by the NSCAA and College Soccer News. He was First Team All-Conference in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The senior was a three-time MPSF Player of the Week and TopDrawerSoccer National Team of the Week member. He finished the season with 15 goals and seven assists, which put him in the top ten in the nation in total goals and total points. He leaves Albuquerque in the top ten in program history in the same two categories.

Senior Blake Smith joined Sandoval and Venter as a First Team All-Region selection. He finished the season second in the NCAA in assists with 13. His baker’s dozen of assists ties John Renken (1986) for the second-most assists in a season by a Lobo. He leaves the program tied for sixth in program history in career assists. Smith was an All-Region Second Team member in 2011 and was First Team All-MPSF in 2012. He is one of the few players in the nation to win weekly honors from his conference, TopDrawerSoccer and College Soccer News in his career.

Kyle Venter, like Sandoval, garners another All-Region selection days after receiving two separate All-American accolades. His All-Far West selection is the first all-region award of his already storied career. This season alone, Venter has been named to All-America teams by College Soccer News and the NSCAA for a second consecutive year. He was also named to TopDrawerSoccer’s National Team of the Season as well as First Team All-MPSF. The Aurora, Colorado native earned National Team of the Week honors from TopDrawerSoccer in October. Venter will enter his senior season in 2013 as one of the premier and most-decorated defenders in the nation and in program history.

Newcomer Michael Calderon continues to collect post-season awards after his first season with New Mexico. The Fairleigh Dickinson transfer was named to the All-Far West Region Third Team, which was the first of his career. He finished the season with four goals and eight assists. The 16 points in 2012 was more than the first two seasons of his career at FDU combined. Calderon was a Second Team All-Conference selection in the MPSF after finishing fifth in the conference in assists. The Costa Rican played his finest soccer in the end of the season as he tallied twelve points in the last nine matches of the year. That output included his one goal and two assists versus Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Venter and Calderon are part of a large contingency of Lobos returning in 2013. Seven players who registered 1,000 minutes of action or more will return as well as six of the Lobos eleven all-conference award winners. New Mexico will also begin play in a new conference next season. UNM will be an affiliate member of Conference USA for men’s soccer starting in 2013.

To read the complete list of All-Region award winners, click here.

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