Sept. 4, 2008
Men: TLC Plumbing & Utilities Inivitational. Lobos vs. Michigan State, 7:30 p.m. Friday; Lobos vs. Louisville, 4 p.m. Sunday
Women: UNM Classic. Lobos vs. Drake, 5:30 p.m. Friday; Lobos vs. Hawaii, 7 p.m. Tuesday
Also: UC Davis vs. Louisville, 2:30 p.m. Friday (men); Michigan State vs. UC Davis, 11 a.m. Sunday (men); Drake vs. Hawaii, 1:30 p.m. Sunday (women).
Where: UNM Soccer Complex
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Lobo sophomore sensation Alexis Ball has yet to find the net in 2008. No big deal. The season is young. And no big deal.
Because in 2008, coach Kit Vela is expecting a whole lot of Lobos to step up and help Ball score. So far, that's exactly what has happened.
"The weight of the world is not on Alex anymore," said Vela. "She knows she has good teammates and other people who can score. Last year, if I took Alexis Ball off the field for any reason = injury, needing a break = you could really see the dropoff. This year we have a different personality and more people who can score."
It probably will be best for Ball in the long run, if the opposing defenders have to spread out and worry about more Lobos' feet than just Ball's. Last season, Ball turned a lot of heads by scoring five goals in five consecutive Lobo games. The attention off the field also brought Ball attention on the field.
Teams would shadow Ball, double-team Ball, hound Ball.
"Especially in conference games, teams were keying on her and she wasn't scoring the way she had," said Vela. "We don't think teams can do that this year because we have multiple threats."
The Lobo women play at 5:30 p.m. Friday against Drake in game one of the UNM Classic. The Jeremy Fishbein men start kicking the ball at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Michigan State in the TLC Plumbing and Utilities Invitational.
The men go again at 4 p.m. Sunday against Louisville and the women continue their tourney at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Hawaii.
Fishbein said his Lobo men will be focusing on "doing the little things right" this weekend.
"You always fight to end the mental mistakes," he said. "It's a mistake here, a mistake there and that has cost us on both sides of the ball. We have given up two soft goals off mistakes and we haven't finished the opportunities we've created. Our focus is doing the little things right, tighten things up defensively and creating more chances on offense."
Fishbein says he likes it when both the Lobo men and women can take to the field on the same day.
"It's great for both programs," Fishbein said. "Anytime you can see both teams, it just attracts more soccer fans. It's also exciting for me because it gives me a chance to see the women play. It will be great."
Vela says her Lobo women have 15 new players. "We are a young team," she said. "But our young players are very good."
"I think the first weekend we showed our youth. We dominated against NAU (Northern Arizona), but couldn't get the ball into the back of the net. Against Baylor, I think we showed our personality. We are dynamic, exciting to watch. We are fast and very aggressive and we are deep. I've been using anywhere between 15 and 19 players a game, which is a lot."
"These doubleheaders are fun. The girls like to hang around after and watch the men play."
Editor's note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner.