Oct. 28, 2011
New Mexico Men's Soccer -- At The Lobos Soccer Complex
Friday: New Mexico Lobos 2, Sacramento State 0
Sunday: 1 p.m., San Jose State at New Mexico Lobos
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Complete State, LoboTV
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It's not exactly accurate to say Jeremy Fishbein's Lobos didn't have any thoughts about being No. 1 Friday night at the Lobo Soccer Complex.
It's just that those thoughts were directed at being No. 1 in the game against Sacramento State. Mission accomplished: Lobos 2, Sacramento State 0.
And the Lobos stay unbeaten at 14-0-2.
"We talked about being ranked and our need to focus on this game and not the ranking," said Fishbein referring to UNM being the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the nation, depending on which poll you peek at.
"The last couple of games I thought we were just OK. This renewed by feelings about the team. I thought we played extremely well."
On a chilly night in front of 4,421 appreciative fans, the Lobos were hot. They dominated the scoreboard getting a game-winner from Michael Green at the 24:24 mark of the first half and adding an insurance goal from Blake Smith at the 63:46 mark of the second half.
UNM blasted 17 shots to 11 for Sacramento and had eight corner kicks to one for the visitors from California. "It would have been nice to score another goal," said Fishbein. "We hit the post a couple of times."
Lobo keeper Victor Rodriguez had four saves and one of those was one of the bigger plays of the game.
Rodriguez was the last Lobo standing between Sacramento's Alex Lopez, who faced Rodriguez one-on-one for a penalty kick at the 64:06 mark. Rodriguez, who had just been slapped with a yellow card, was obviously pumped for the challenge.
Lopez went into the ball quickly after the signal from the ref and rolled a shot low to Rodriquez's left side. It wasn't exactly a rocket shot, but it was sharp and well-aimed -- until Rodriquez got in the way to make the stop.
"Who knows if it was a foul or not, but it was a big-time save," said Fishbein. "I thought we had a mature performance tonight. We got the lead and protected it.
"We had a couple of mistakes that we talked about. We knew they would only give us trouble, if we gave them chances. We gave them a couple."
A nice pre-Halloween treat for the crowd was watching Green notch his first goal of the season. Green had scored two goals as a freshman, five goals as a sophomore and two goals as a junior. Green, who wears No. 15, had been shutout 15 games into the 2011 season.
He now has 16 shots in 16 games and one big goal.
"It felt great to score," said Green, one of the top midfielders in the nation. "I'm in a different position so I don't get as many good scoring opportunities. It's always fun to score and even more fun at home. It's just a different rush."
The Lobos obviously are enjoying their lofty ranking, but they also know that the true test of No. 1 comes in NCAA play.
"We just go out to play our game and not think about the rankings," said Green. "Just stay humble and focused. The last couple of games we haven't played up to our potential, but still pulled out wins. Tonight I thought we played well. It was a good win."
The Lobos look to stay undefeated at 1 p.m., Sunday when San Jose State visits the Lobo Soccer Complex. UNM's final home game -- and Senior Night -- will be Nov. 5 when UNLV comes to Albuquerque. The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament is set for Nov. 10-11-13 in Denver.