2013 NCAA Tournament – Second Round
Sunday, November 24 – 5:00 p.m. (MST)
UNM Soccer Complex – Albuquerque, N.M.
It’s late November and the New Mexico Lobos stand as one of the 48 teams fortunate enough to qualify for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament. In fact, New Mexico is one of the top 16 seeds that has earned more than fortune and taken home a first-round bye and a second-round home match.
The Cherry and Silver will look to show they’re a top seeded program with serious substance when they welcome the George Mason Patriots to the UNM Soccer Complex on Sunday evening. UNM wants to show their visitors and the national soccer community what Lobo Soccer at the University of New Mexico is all about.
“Expectations are high coming into the tournament. Our guys are excited to play in front of their home fans,” Head Coach Jeremy Fishbein put it. “I think it’s just a great situation. Our guys are so appreciative of playing here in front of our great fans in a special atmosphere. We get so much energy from the fans, and we are excited.”
Those expectations are high based on Lobo Soccer’s back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in 2011 and 2012. The top ten national ranking in attendance for a fifth consecutive season plays a role in that as well. Coach Fishbein and the Lobos have also become NCAA postseason regulars with eleven tournament appearances in the last thirteen seasons.
UNM earned a seventh overall seed in this year’s tournament after winning the regular season title in their first year in Conference USA. That top ten seeding is the second highest in program history. The program was the second overall seed in the 2005 tournament, which saw the Lobos advance all the way to the national championship match.
The seed also marks New Mexico’s third-straight top 16 ranking for postseason play. It puts the Lobos in elite company as one of only three programs in the nation to earn a top 16 seed in three consecutive NCAA Tournaments. The only other programs in the country who can also say that are UCLA and Maryland.
George Mason comes to the Duke City just days after downing William & Mary in Virginia on penalty kicks in the NCAA first round. The win over the Tibe is part of GMU’s 13-match unbeaten streak. The Atlantic-10 champions haven’t suffered the agony of defeat since losing to UMBC in late September.
The Patriots aren’t to be taken lightly, and they’ve shown that. New Mexico knows this time of the year is the most unpredictable in college soccer. Senior defender Kyle Venter previewed the team’s mindset going into Sunday.
“We know our path, and we know what it’s going to take.”
It’s going to take a program-wide commitment to excellence in every square inch of the pitch on Sunday evening.