Lobo Soccer- at Transamerica Field, Charlotte, N.C. (4,000)
When: Friday at 5 p.m. (MT)
Who: Charlotte 49ers
GoLobos.com: Live stats,box score, postgame recap and stats
Video: Charlotte will stream the game via Charlotte49ersTV, but there is a fee. A link is available on the soccer schedule at GoLobos.com
Weather Forecast: 71 degrees and partly cloudy
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Conference play begins this weekend for the fifth-ranked UNM men's soccer team (5-1-1) as the Lobos travel to 2013 C-USA Tournament champion and No. 21 Charlotte (5-1-0). The match will pit the nation's No. 2 scoring offense (Charlotte, 2.83 goals per game) against the nation's No. 18 scoring defense (UNM, 0.55 goals against average).
"They're a hungry team," UNM head coach Jeremy Fishbein said of the 49ers. "They're relentless and physical. They stick to their guns in terms of how they play. They play big and off seconds. They're physical and well organized. They have a couple of real special players (including) a great center back and some really special attackers. It's going to be a fun one."
One of those special attacking players is senior forward Monbar Bokar, who leads the squad with four goals. Another dangerous player is junior Kyle Parker who ranks fourth in the nation in assists with five and is 25th with 11 points.
"Our defense has been quite good pretty much every game" said Fishbein. "(But) we're probably facing the best team to open up the conference, so it's a big one. It's on the road, but if we're at our best it should be a good game in a difficult and challenging atmosphere."
Steadying UNM's defense are three seniors: Mathew Gibbons (69 career starts, 11th all-time at UNM in minutes played), Nick Miele (44 career appearances, TLC Plumbing and Utility Invitational Defensive MVP) and Riley McGovern (41 career appearances). That trio, along with sophomore Chris Gurule, have been stupendous in limiting opponent's chances. Even if the opposing team does get a decent look, they still have to beat one of UNM's two keepers: senior Patrick Poblete (2-0-1, 0.63 GAA) and freshman Jason Beulieu (3-1-0, 0.49 GAA).
This is only the second meeting ever between the two programs, with the first coming last Oct. 4 in Albuquerque and resulted in a 0-0 draw.
"We were lucky to tie them (last year)," said Fishbein. "We were awful. It was one of those games where you're like, 'Hey, that was great. We came out of that with a tie and probably didn't deserve it.' They outplayed us last year."
League coaches voted the 49ers second in the preseason behind the Lobos.
Series Record vs. Charlotte: 0-0-1
Home: 0-0-1 Away: 0-0-0; Neutral: 0-0-0
Last meeting: This will be only the second meeting between the two sides. Last season they drew 0-0 in Albuquerque.
Up Next: UNM returns home for a pair of games next week, including its only midweek game at the UNM Soccer Complex this season. The Lobos face West Virginia Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. before returning to C-USA play with a match vs. Florida International on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.
SCOUTING CHARLOTTE ... The No. 21 49ers boast a potent offensive attack and lead C-USA with 17 goals scored on the season, including six in their most recent match: a 6-1 drubbing at Campbell, which was ranked No. 25 by TopDrawerSoccer at the time. Their only loss on the season thus far came in double overtime at the hands of Coastal Carolina, which was in the top 10 at the time. Senior forward Monbar Bokar leads the team with four goals, while juniors Dominic Bonilla and Kyle Parker have each tallied three apiece. Parker leads the team with 11 points and 18 shots. Junior Austin Pack has played all but 13 minutes in goal for Charlotte, has made 18 saves and recorded two clean sheets.
TLC TOURNAMENT CHAMPS ... UNM claimed the championship of its TLC Plumbing and Utility Invitational last weekend by virtue of its plus-two goal differential. Ben McKendry earned Tournament MVP honors, while Nick Miele was named Defensive MVP and Chris Wehan was Offensive MVP. James Rogers and Josh Dye were also named to the All-Tournament Team.
MIELE HONORED ... Senior center back Nick Miele was named to TopDrawerSoccer’s National Team of the Week on Sept. 23 for his performance in the TLC Plumbing and Utility Challenge.
MOST INTERESTING SCORER IN THE WORLD ... Senior midfielder Oniel Fisher has not scored many goals in his Lobo career, but when he does score, it’s a game-winning goal. He has three career goals in 27 matches and each one has been a game winner. Most recently he opened the scoring in UNM’s 2-0 win at San Diego on Sept. 14. He also scored the only goal in UNM’s 1-0 season-opening win over No. 13 Akron on Aug. 29, and his other goal came against Penn St. in the Sweet Sixteen last season, which was the first of two for UNM in its 2-0 win.
ROGERS CLIMBING ... James Rogers’ goal at San Diego on Sept. 14 was the 20th of his career, tying him for ninth all-time in UNM history. Meanwhile, his 151 shots rank him eighth and his 56 points leave him two shy of 10th.
GIBBONS NEARING TOP 10 ... Senior Mathew Gibbons is approaching UNM’s top 10 all-time for minutes played. If he plays the entire match vs. Charlotte (and he has played all but seven minutes this season) then he will pass Matt Wootten and move into 10th place. Plus, if he starts, as expected, against the 49ers it will be his 70th career start and move him into a ninth-place tie in program history.
BEAULIEU MOVING UP ... Jason Beaulieu continues to make moves in the UNM history book. He now has three wins and three clean sheets on the season. The wins are the third most a freshman has ever had for the Lobos (Nate Busek had five in 1990 and Andrew Weber holds the record with seven in 2001), and his shutout total is the second most ever by a freshman. Weber again set the standard with five in his first season.
A MILE HIGH AND LOUDER THAN ... The Lobos ranked eighth in the nation in attendance last season, averaging 2,121 fans for each of the team’s 12 home games in 2013. UNM’s match vs. No. 1 UCLA was the second most attended regular-season home game in program history as 5,026 fans came out to UNM Soccer Complex. The Lobos are currently averaging 2,792 fans through four home matches.
ROGERS UP FOR SENIOR CLASS AWARD... UNM senior forward James Rogers has been named one of 30 national candidates for the Senior CLASS Award. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.
NO EASY PATH ... UNM’s schedule is not an easy one to negotiate. Starting with the opener against No. 13 Akron, five of the Lobos’ first seven games are against teams that are either ranked or receiving votes, including a matchup with No. 1 UCLA on Sept. 7.
C-USA FAVORITES ... The Lobos were voted by league coaches as overwhelming favorites to repeat as Conference USA regular-season champions. UNM received seven out of nine first-place votes to finish well ahead of the pack. Charlotte and UAB each also received a first-place vote and finished in second and third, respectively. Senior defender Mathew Gibbons and junior midfielder Ben McKendry were named to the Preseason All-Conference Team.
HERMANN WATCH LIST ... Incoming transfer Kevin Correa was named to the MAC Hermann Watch List. Last season he finished sixth in the NCAA in points per game (1.68), eighth in total points (32) and ninth in both goals (13) and goals per game (0.68). He also earned Preseason All-American honors from Soccer America.
FISH AMONG THE BEST ... Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein continues to build his coaching legacy at New Mexico. The 2014 season is Fishbein’s 13th at the helm of Lobo Soccer. His UNM record of 168-54-28 makes him the program’s all-time winningest coach. Furthermore, Fishbein has cemented himself among the best in the nation. His 142 wins since 2004 are tied for second in the nation among all active NCAA Division I head coaches.
NCAA Active Win Leaders Since 2004
1st - Sasho Cirovski (Maryland) - 170 wins
T-2nd - Jeremy Fishbein (New Mexico) - 142 wins
T-2nd - Jay Vicovich (Wake Forest) - 142 wins
T-2nd - Tom Vom Steeg (UC Santa Barbara) - 142 wins
5th - Ray Reid (UConn) - 140 wins
6th - Elmar Bolowich (Creighton) - 139 wins
7th - George Gelnovatch (Virginia) - 135 wins
8th - Ken Lolla (Louisville) - 130 wins