#23 New Mexico – 2 Kentucky-0 (Full Match Report)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The importance of Saturday evening’s match versus the Kentucky Wildcats (6-9-3, 3-4-2 C-USA) could not be understated for the #23 University of New Mexico Lobos (11-4-2, 7-1-1 C-USA). The match-up against the Wildcats was Senior Day as well as the program’s chance to clinch the regular season Conference USA title and first round bye in C-USA’s tournament next week. New Mexico’s 2-0 victory earned Coach Fishbein and the Lobos their sought-after rewards as they clinched the regular season title in their first year as a member of Conference USA.
The Lobos received a pair of second-half goals from Kyle Venter and Ben McKendry while clamping down on the Wildcat attack. Kentucky did not take a shot in the entire match against the Lobos as New Mexico recorded their eighth shutout of the season.
UNM’s first goal in the 62nd minute came off a poetic combination for Senior Day. Senior Michael Calderon found fellow senior Kyle Venter on a corner kick as Venter headed home the match’s first goal. The Lobo attack provided a second goal just fifteen minutes later.
James Rogers received a ball from the midfield and streaked down the right flank of the Kentucky defense. As a Wildcat defender was closing in on Rogers, he unleashed a high-sailing cross from 15 yards outside of the box. The pinpoint strike found Ben McKendry perfectly in the middle of the box as the sophomore slated away his fourth goal of the season.
The win over Kentucky came as Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein and the Lobos honored a quartet of seniors; Michael Lisch, Michael Calderon, Michael Kafari and Kyle Venter.
New Mexico (61:04) Kyle Venter (Michael Calderon assist)
New Mexico (76:36) Ben McKendry (James Rogers assist)
Starters: Lisch (GK), Gibbons, Venter, Miele, Fisher, Kafari, Calderon, McKendry, Rogers, Wehan and Rochowksi.
First Half Subs: Hansen (22:25), McGovern (32:28)
Halftime Subs: Dye
- University of New Mexico clinched the regular season title in their first year as a member of Conference USA. It’s UNM’s eighth regular season conference championship since 2002 going back to New Mexico’s days as a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
- New Mexico held Kentucky without a shot on Saturday evening. It’s the first time the Lobos have accomplished the feat in over a decade.
- The Lobos’ first goal on Senior Day came on a poetic scoring combination. Senior Michael Calderon found the head of fellow senior Kyle Venter on a corner kick. It was the first time New Mexico had scored on a corner since their season opener.
- Senior goalkeeper Michael Lisch recorded his eighth shutout of the season in the win over Kentucky. His eight clean sheets this season are tied for sixth all-time in Lobo history for shutouts in a season. He is tied with Charlotte’s Klay Davis for the conference lead in that category.
- Kentucky was the sixth opponent New Mexico faced for the first time ever this season. The Lobos recorded five wins in those six matches.
- Kyle Venter finishes the regular season with 7,449 minutes played in his career. Venter is now third all-time in New Mexico history in career minutes played. He trails only Andrew Weber (7,681 minutes) and current UNM assistant coach Brandon Moss (7,507 minutes).
“This win was what we set out for. I thought it was a complete performance by the team, and now we get to get excited for next week… I think anytime you can get more rest (with a conference tournament bye) than other teams late in the season, it’s an advantage.” – Defender Kyle Venter
“They mean everything to the program… The main thing is seeing the maturity of their growth. Senior day was something we haven’t focused a lot on because we plan on playing some more games and hopefully a couple more here at home.” – Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein on New Mexico’s four seniors.
“We were good tonight especially on the ball. Our ball speed was great and defensively we were pretty clean. We knew their only chances tonight would be off giveaways in transition and we took care of that the entire night.” – Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein
New Mexico has earned a first round bye in next week’s Conference USA Tournament in Charlotte, N.C. They will face the winner of Tulsa and South Carolina who are the fourth and fifth seeded teams in the tournament. The Lobos will face either the Golden Hurricane or the Gamecocks on Friday, November 15 at 3 p.m. (MST) on the campus of the University of North Carolina – Charlotte.