The Fish Blog: On To MPSF Play!
Sept. 26, 2012
On to Conference play! It's ten games, which will require grit, determination, skill, tenacity, fitness, strength, focus and maturity. We will play in some of the most challenging venues in the West. There's excitement for the battles ahead. Our non-conference slate is behind us. Sunday's match was the conclusion of eight tremendous matches leading into Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. Of our opponents, seven were 2011 NCAA Tournament participants and UCLA, UAB, SMU, Dartmouth, Tulsa and Cal Irvine have had spells in the national "Top 25" this season. The non-conference goal was to play the best and to prepare for our defense of the MPSF Title... Mission accomplished!
LOBOS VS FAIRFIELD UNIVERSITY. 7:00 PM SEPTEMBER 21, 2012: ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
Fairfield traveled across the country to face the Lobos. Connecticut is a long way from the Land of Enchantment! The Stags are a quality team, fresh off a run in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Mature, tough and determined to come west and make their mark. Not this year! Our boys were ready for this one, as were the 2000+ in the stands. We wanted to play soccer, but were ready to go toe to toe with a physical team. Fairfield was determined to make the match a war: aerial balls, set pieces, direct play with the goal of intimidation and breaking up the rhythm of the match.
17:33 into the match, Devon Sandoval put tremendous pressure on the back four, capitalized on a Fairfield miscue. Running full stream at one of the center backs, Sandoval caused a rushed back pass... over the keeper and Devon slotted the ball into the empty net. 1-0 Lobos. We continued to control the half but failed to connect on the crucial second goal. We convincingly got a hold of the match in the second half and were rewarded in the 81st minute when a Blake Smith rocket was blocked and James Rogers followed up to make it 2-0 Lobos. This is how the match finished with the stats all in the Lobos' favor: 19-5 in shots, 13-4 advantage in corner kicks, Vic Rodriguez challenged to make only 1 save the entire match (1st half).
Fairfield committed 21 fouls to our nine and received a late red card and three yellows. No Lobos were booked. Pretty nasty match, but our boys won both the physical battle and played with quality. Here's a link to the website article.
LOBOS VS NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY. 1:00 PM SEPTEMBER 23, 2012: ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
It was another opponent traveling a great distance to face the Lobos. Sunday was all Lobos! What made the day so special was the opportunity to remember Lobo Patrick Grange and help promote ALS awareness and fundraising. The starting team wore Grange #4 shirts for the introduction and money was raised at the gate for ALS research. Incredible event, and we feel so fortunate to be able to stay connected to Pat and to be involved with the fight against ALS.
We challenged the boys to come out strong and lock down the match early. 19:40 into the match, Blake Smith worked his magic on the right flank, cut inside and played a beautiful left footed ball to the far post... Sandoval with a great run, nodded the ball into the net. 1-0 Lobos. Ten minutes later a great flick from Carson Baldinger played into the path of a charging Sandoval , which led to our second goal of the match. 2-0 Lobos. We couldn't find the third and went into halftime hungry to put the game out of reach. 22 minutes into the second half some great individual work by Blake Smith put the match away. 3-0 Lobos. Very convincing win with the stats to prove it: 18-9 advantage in shots, nine-three in corners and Victor Rodriguez and Javier Lane combined for three saves and the shutout. Link to the GoLobos.com recap.
For his efforts over the weekend, Devon Sandoval was named to the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week for the second time this season and Devon was also named MPSF Player of the week for a third time.
We are off to Houston on Friday and our Conference opener versus Houston Baptist Saturday night at 6:00 (MT). If you haven't already joined our booster club, the Golden Goal Club, here is the link to the brochure. We need your support!
Thanks for all your support and GO LOBOS!