ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Spring soccer exhibitions may not count towards a team’s record, but they are an integral part of the development of a program. The University of New Mexico Lobos graduated a five-player senior class in 2012, which included their top goal and assist men in current MLS’ers Devon Sandoval and Blake Smith. Yet UNM’s six-match spring schedule saw the Lobos play fresh faces in different places while developing an identity and leadership. However, perhaps more importantly they kept the program’s commitment to excellence on the field as Coach Fishbein and company finished the spring with an undefeated record of 5-0-1.
“Our goal going into the spring was to work on our style of play and working with different combinations of players. Guys who didn’t play a lot of minutes or who redshirted last season were given the opportunity to compete this spring, and they made the most of it. You can call these matches exhibitions, but our guys take a lot pride in wearing a New Mexico jersey in any match. They stepped onto the field with the expectation to win every time this spring, and that was a big part of our success,” said Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein.
Returning starters James Rogers and Michael Calderon led New Mexico in scoring with six and five goals respectively. They led a Lobo attack that saw seven different players combine for eighteen goals in six matches. The scoring depth was fueled by several young Lobos stepping up in new roles this spring.
“I thought Josh Dye, Christopher Wehan, Nicholas Rochowski, Riley McGovern and Nick Miele all really established themselves. They were all low-minute guys or redshirts last season, and they all really seized their opportunities this spring,” Coach Fishbein noted.
An equally-important component of the team’s success this spring was the play of freshman newcomers who joined the program early in January. Their extra months of training and conditioning as Lobos were invaluable and those head starts were capped off by good performances on the field in the eyes of the Lobo head man.
“James Wypych played really well this spring as freshman, and fellow freshman Josh Goss really came into his own towards the end of the spring. They scored goals and meshed into our attack. This spring was a real confidence builder for those guys and creates momentum for them going into the summer and fall.”
The Cherry & Silver tallied 18 goals in exhibition play but locked it down defensively by allowing only three goals all spring. The stingy defensive play was propelled by quality play from goalkeepers and defenders alike. The Lobo backline was led by returning and decorated defenders Kyle Venter and Mathew Gibbons. Manning the pipes behind the backline were keepers Patrick Poblete and newcomer Michael Lisch.
Poblete recorded huge wins in 2012, which included victories against then second-ranked UCLA and Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. He continued his stellar play in goal in the spring alongside Lisch. Lisch, one of the five newcomers to join the team in January, was ranked in the top ten nationally in goals allowed average last season with Wake Forest. His seamless transition to New Mexico showed this spring.
“Michael Lisch played extremely well this spring. He’s quickly fit into our program and worked very hard since coming to Albuquerque in January. His quality play has been a product of everything he’s done since joining us,” Fishbein said.
The team-wide dedication to spring season is apparent by the success seen in all facets of play. It’s all been music to the ears of Coach Jeremy Fishbein.
“I’m really proud of the effort and hard work put in by our guys all spring. They’ve been devoted since January and these matches are the culmination of months of development, dedication and preparation. They brought a commitment to excellence in everything they did, and that is the most important part.”
2013 Spring Matches
Lobos-3 UC Riverside-0 Michael Calderon gets the hat trick, which gives him four goals in two matches. Redshirt freshman Christopher Wehan gets his first career point with the assist on Calderon's first goal.
Lobos-2 Grand Canyon-1 Ben McKendry shows why he was the Newcomer of the Year in the MPSF last season with his first goal of the spring as Michael Calderon finds the back of the net in a third-straight match.
Lobos-0 Denver-0 110 minutes of action in very windy Taos Eco Park yields no goals. New Mexico played much of the second half down a man and still nearly scored several times.
Lobos-2 Air Force-1 James Rogers scores twice within seven minutes in the first half. His first goal is tremendous solo effort slicing through Falcon defenders. His second goal comes on the heels of a tremendous passing combination from James Wypych and Christopher Wehan.
Lobos-7 Creighton-1 The Lobo attack errupts for seven goals against a Final Four team from a year ago. Five different Lobos score as James Rogers and Josh Goss each tally a pair of goals. New Mexico is inches away from an eighth goal with a Christopher Wehan free kick ricochets off the cross bar.