New Mexico vs. Tulsa (Conference USA Semifinals)
Friday, November 15 at 3 p.m. (MST) – Charlotte, N.C.
Live Stats and Video through www.ConferenceUSA.com
The No. 19 University of New Mexico men’s soccer team is looking to finish what they started in their first year in Conference USA; win the Conference USA Tournament. New Mexico enters the tournament as the top seed after winning the regular season conference championship outright. That quest for a title begins on Friday at 3 p.m. (MST) when the top seeded Lobos face fifth-seeded Tulsa in the C-USA semifinals in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The C-USA Tournament has been anything but predictable thus far. Want the evidence? In all three matches so far, the lower-seeded team has won. #5 Tulsa beat #4 South Carolina 3-1, #6 Charlotte downed #3 UAB 2-1 and #7 Kentucky upset #2 Old Dominion 1-0 in overtime.
Coach Fishbein and the Lobos have been the toast of the conference with a final regular season record of 11-4-2 (7-1-1 C-USA). They took home 13 All-Conference USA awards earlier this week, which included Kyle Venter being named Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Christopher Wehan was the Freshman of the Year and Jeremy Fishbein was the Coach of the Year. UNM’s 13 total awards was nearly twice the total of the runner-ups, and it matched a program record.
The Lobos also took home some academic hardware from Conference USA. Kyle Venter and Nick Miele were named to the Academic All-Conference USA team as New Mexico was one of four programs to have a pair of student-athletes named to the team. Miele and Venter’s inclusion on the Academic All-Conference USA Team marks the 85th and 86th time a Lobo has received academic all-conference honors during the Jeremy Fishbein era (2002 – present). The program has fielded 18 academic All-Americans during that same time.
The 2013 season has been a lesson in “staying the course”. New Mexico opened the season with a 4-3 record in non-conference play that saw UNM drop three matches in a row at home for the first time in this millennium. The Lobos also dropped out of the national rankings for the first time in over two seasons following their 2-1 loss to UC Davis at the UNM Soccer Complex on September 27.
Yet there was never any panic nor deviation from the plan off attack by Coach Fishbein and the Lobos. They continued to play attacking Lobo soccer as they began Conference USA play for the first time ever. The Cherry & Silver elevated their game against elevated competition and returned to their winning ways. They scored wins over back-to-back ranked foes in #10 UAB and #24 Old Dominion in the same week as they finished the season with six wins in their final seven matches.
It's been one match at a time all season long for New Mexico, and now that next match is Friday afternoon. The Lobos will now face Tulsa for the second time this season. The Lobos defeated the Golden Hurricane in Tulsa 1-0 back on October 9th in a NSCAA National Game of the Week.