Men’s Soccer: Lobos Visit Bradley In NCAA Tournament
The University of New Mexico men’s soccer team hits the road for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Lobos will travel to Peoria, Ill., later this week where they will meet the Bradley Braves. Game time is set for Saturday, November 23 at 4:00 p.m. (M.S.T.).
The New Mexico-Bradley winner will take on perennial soccer power St. Louis University.
Bradley is 14-5-4 on the season. The Braves defeated No. 4 SMU, 0-0 (3-1 PK's), in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament last weekend. Bradley eventually lost to 12th-ranked Creighton 1-0, in the championship game but was able to secure an at large bid.
New Mexico is 2-0-0 all-time against Bradley. However, the last time UNM faced Bradley was in 1994. The Lobos won that game, 6-0, on September 8 in University Stadium.
The Lobos (17-3) received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after Sunday’s 2-1 home overtime victory over San Jose State in the title game of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament. UNM was the No. 1 seed in the tourney.
UNM was led by freshmen Ben Ashwill and Ricky Francis. The tandem hooked-up on both scores, including the game-winner in the 98th minute. Ashwill was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. New Mexico is 10-0-0 at home this season and 4-0-0 in overtime matches.
This is New Mexico’s second trip to the NCAA Tournament. UNM’s first appearance was last year when it was the lowest seed in the MPSF Tournament, but won three straight matches to earn the conference’s automatic berth. The Lobos beat Florida International 1-0, before falling to top-ranked SMU 2-0, in the second round.
“I’ve seen this program change from where it was not good at all to where we are bringing in great players who want to play together and work hard,” stated senior Javier Carrasco. “All of our hard work over the summer has paid off. We are clicking and our crowds have helped us out so much. It is nice to see all of Albuquerque show support for the soccer team.”
First-year head coach Jeremy Fishbein has led the Lobos to a school record for wins with the 17-3-0 record. He really wanted to win the MPSF Tournament and lock up the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. “It’s a relief to get in,” he stated. “This solidified our season and this is a big confidence boost for our guys after coming off two sub-par performances. It just puts us in the right frame of mind going into the NCAA Tournament.”a