Sept. 21, 2011
LOBOS SOCCER -- AT THE LOBO SOCCER COMPLEX
Friday: 5 p.m., Oklahoma vs. Lobo women; 7 p.m, Loyola Marymount vs. Lobo men
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By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
You want undefeated Lobos? You got them Friday night at the Lobo Soccer Complex. The New Mexico men are 5-0-2.
You want an exciting doubleheader of soccer featuring two passionate and energy-charged Lobo teams playing in one of the rowdier venues in America?
If so, the Lobo Soccer Complex is the place to be.
The action starts at 5 p.m. with Kit Vela's Lobo women battling a solid team of Oklahoma Sooners -- a Sooner team that pounded (2-0) former Mountain West bully, Brigham Young.
"It's another challenge and that's what our non-conference schedule is set up to do," said Coach Vela. "We realize Oklahoma is a good team and we are going to have to come out and play with energy and focus for 90 minutes."
Coach Jeremy Fishbein's Lobos will follow the UNM women, putting their undefeated 5-0-2 on the line against Loyola Marymount.
The Sooners and the Marymount Lions will be looking to accent their records with wins in one of the tougher collegiate venues in college soccer.
"We're everybody's big game," said Fishbein. "Loyola has to be looking at it as a pretty important game for them. I would imagine they're coming here looking to jump-start their season with a big result against us."
Yeah, the Lions need to put a little roar into their season. They return 19 lettermen and nine starters, including Roger Downes, the WCC Defender of The Year.
Loyola went into the 2011 season looking for big results and expecting to get some revenge from the NCAA snub of 2010. The Lions ran to their first West Coast Conference title in 2010, but failed to get an NCAA invite. That hurt.
Of the nine returning starters, eight are seniors and hungry to throw out an exceptional season and knock down that NCAA door. They also want to knock down the Lobos. However, the Lions will come to Albuquerque with a 2-4-0 mark and riding a two-game losing skid.
A win over the undefeated Lobos would look very good on an NCAA resume.
"We like to go on the road," said Lions' coach Paul Krumpe, who calls the Lobo Soccer Complex, "a "very hostile environment. Their fans are great and they make it very uncomfortable for an opponent. I imagine the game at New Mexico will be very well attended."
Yeah, this could be one of UNM's biggest gate of the year as the crowd should hover around 3,000.
The Lobo men are coming off a 1-0-1 mark at the Akron Tournament. UNM tied Akron, the 2010 national champs, 1-1 in double overtime. "It was a game we expected to win," said Fishbein. "Our guys were disappointed."
The Lobos women are coming off a 2-1 win over UC Riverside, a win that snapped a three-game losing skid for the 4-4 Lobos. The Sooners are not expected to be easy prey.
Oklahoma has been tested twice this season by teams in the Top 20 -- losing to Oklahoma State and beating then-No. 20 Brigham Young, 2-0.
The Sooners are led in goal scoring by Alexandra Michelle (4), Amy Petrikin (4), Caitlyn Mooney (4) and Dria Hampton (3).
The Sooners, like a lot of teams, seem to play better -- and win -- when they score first. Oklahoma Coach Nicole Nelson says she wants her players to start "responding better when we've given up a goal. It's no secret when we score first, we have a lot of confidence."
Scoring has been a slight thorn in UNM's side, too. The Lobo women are outshooting opponents by a whopping 148 to 87 (67 on goal to 30), but are only ahead on goals, 13 to 10. UNM's shot percentage is .088.
"We need to start finding the back of the net," said Vela. "We are getting the shots. We have to finish them."
Oklahoma has outshot the enemy 141 to 106 (67 on goal to 50). Oklahoma is 5-0 when it scores two or more goals and the Sooners have scored three-to-five goals in four of their wins. The Sooners are 0-5 when they do not score two goals or more.
The Lobo men are led by Sandoval with four goals and Blake Smith with two. Both Lobo squads are extremely fierce on defense. Victor Rodriguez, the men's keeper, has a 0.56 goals-against average. The UNM men have outscored its opponents 15 to 4 and have 43 shots on goal to 17 for the enemy.