Stevens: Top 12 Moments: Lobo soccer Rolls Out Undefeated Season
July 7, 2012
Top Lobo Moments From 2011-12: GoLobos.com is flashing back on 12 special Lobo moments from the 2011-12 season.
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Because of the nature of soccer, a game that allows ties to end a season, it's possible that the seemingly impossible ending to the New Mexico Lobos men's soccer season of 2011 will be repeated.
But it won't be an easy season to duplicate - for anyone.
The Jeremy Fishbein Lobos walked away from last year's pitch as the only undefeated D-I team in America. It was a magical season that saw the Lobos rise to become the No. 1 ranked team in D-I soccer and end the season at 18-0-4.
It was that fourth tie that ended UNM's inspiring run. A 0-0 score after regulation play and two overtimes led to a NCAA playoff shootout with South Florida and the Bulls found the net one more time in the penalty-kick format. The game was officially declared a tie with the shootout allowing only one team to advance.
The undefeated Lobos were denied a shot at advancing toward the national title they felt they were capable of winning. Still, it was still a season of tremendous success for a program that has distinguished itself as one of the best in America.
"As a coach, I'm also amazed at the resiliency and the consistency of this team, said Fishbein at the season's end. "There was never a question of effort, never a question of preparation. It was a team of outstanding individuals who put aside individual goals in order to become a great team."
You have to give the South Florida Bulls credit for advancing past New Mexico, but you also have to cast a critical eye at the NCAA bracket that handed the No. 1 ranked team in the nation a No. 10 seed for the playoffs. That bracket slap meant the Lobos got only one home game and then had to take their show on the road. They lost to the Bulls in Florida.
When the top seeds for the tourney were announced, it was curious to see that the nine teams above UNM had 36 total losses. The Lobos had none. They ended the season with a zero in the loss column.
The Lobo program, which played in the national title game in 2005, had never before produced an undefeated season. Fishbein's Lobos set a program record by winning 13 consecutive games at one stretch in the fall of 2011.
"That's not something I've ever been a part of," Fishbein said of his team's undefeated run that placed UNM atop the three major polls that rank men's college soccer.
"In terms of success, consistency and focus, there's been nothing like it here. It's pretty amazing to go 22 games without a loss."