Lobos Release 2003 Schedule
Albuquerque, N.M. - University of New Mexico men's soccer head coach Jeremy Fishbein released the Lobo's 2003 schedule today and it appears to be one of the toughest in the program's history. The Lobos are coming off an 18-4-0 season in 2002, including the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular season and tournament titles and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. However, the Lobos received mild criticism for a mediocre schedule that did not include any NCAA Tournament participants in the regular season. That will all change next year when the Lobos will face five teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament, including a October 9 match-up with defending national champion UCLA. Four of the Lobo's 2003 opponent were ranked in the final polls in 2002. As a result, New Mexico will face the most ranked teams in a season since 1995 when they went 2-3 against five ranked opponents.
"We've got a very competitive team and coaching staff and we are looking forward to testing our skills against the top teams in the country," stated Fishbein. "This is the type of schedule we need to play to build our team into an elite program and we are going to continue to play quality opponents whenever we can."
The Lobos spent only one week in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Top-25, mainly due to their lack of top opponents during the regular season. In 2003, the Lobos look to test their skills against some of the best teams in the country, beginning with two matches on the road in Madison, Wisconsin. First, the Lobos will play Wisconsin on Friday, August 29, a team that finished tied for second in the Big 10 and posted a 9-10-0 regular season mark. New Mexico will then face Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Sunday, August 31. The Panthers won the Horizon League with a 19-2-1 mark and were the only team in the NCAA to win more games than the Lobos in 2002. UWM finished the regular season ranked 17th in the NSCAA Top-25 and 14th in CollegeSoccerNews.com Top-30.
New Mexico's home opener is the following week against Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis on Friday, September 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the UNM Soccer Complex. IUPUI finished the 2002 season with a 3-14-2 record and a sixth place finish in the Mid-Continent Conference. The Lobos will then face Cincinnati on Sunday, September 9 at 1:00 p.m., also at the UNM Soccer Complex. Cincy just missed the NCAA Tournament with a 11-8-2 record and a fifth place finish in the highly competitive Conference-USA.
The Lobos travel to Dallas, Texas on September 12 for a neutral match against Tulsa, who posted an 10-9-0 record in 2003. On September 13 UNM will face Southern Methodist at 7:30 p.m. SMU finished the 2002 season with a 16-3-3 record and the Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship. They were ranked 12th in the final NSCAA Top-25 poll and 10th in the CollegeSoccerNews.com final Top-30 poll. The Mustangs also advanced to the third round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
UNM will then face UC-Irvine at home on September 19 at 7:30 p.m. This game is slated to be "Stuff the Stadium" night at the UNM Soccer Complex. All tickets for this game will be $1 as the Lobos try to break the UNM Soccer Complex single-game attendance record of 4,352 set against Wisconsin-Milwaukee on September 12, 1997. The Anteaters are coming off an 8-8-4 record in 2002 that included a 1-0 win over New Mexico on October 1. Southwest Missouri State returns to the UNM Soccer Complex on Sunday, September 21 at 1:00 p.m. They posted a 9-11-0 record in 2002.
New Mexico's next road trip takes them to Las Vegas, Nevada for a neutral game against Gonzaga. The Zags posted a 5-10-1 record in 2002 and will square off with UNM on September 26. Cal State Northridge is the second neutral game UNM will play in Las Vegas. New Mexico will face the Matadors on Sunday, September 28. Northridge posted a 14-5-2 record in 2002 and was an NCAA Tournament participant.
The biggest non-conference game of the season will come on Thursday, October 9 at defending NCAA Champion UCLA. The Bruins finished 2002 as the consensus No. 1 ranked team in the country with an 18-3-3 record. If the Bruins are still ranked No. 1 when the Lobos come to town, it will be the first time New Mexico has face a top-ranked team since falling to SMU, 1-0, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on November 11, 2001. New Mexico then travels to UC-Santa Barbara for an October 12 match-up against the Gauchos. UCSB finished 2002 with an 18-3-1 record and was ranked 21st in the final NSCAA Top-25 poll.
The Lobos conference schedule shapes up with home matches against UNLV (10/18), San Jose State (10/31), and Sacramento State (11/2). They will also play at Air Force (10/24), Denver (10/26), and San Diego State (11/9). The 2003 MPSF Tournament will be held in Sacramento, Calif. on November 13-16.
For season tickets or more information on the upcoming 2003 Men's Soccer team call the UNM Marketing office at (505) 925-5014.