#19 New Mexico Men's Soccer 2013 Preview

New Mexico Lobos

Overall Rank: #19
Conference Rank: #3 Conference USA
#19 New Mexico Men's Soccer 2013 Preview
New Mexico Team Page


It is a new era for soccer in New Mexico. Its home base is still Albuquerque, but its nearest opponent now resides in Tulsa. Most of the schools are on the east coast. Welcome to life in Conference USA, which replaces the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation as the Lobos’ home base for men’s soccer in 2013. New Mexico is one of several schools joining C-USA as new members, so the Lobos won’t necessarily be having growing pains all alone. The final season in the Mountain Pacific, and overall, was very good to New Mexico, but time will tell how the Lobos adjust to their new surroundings.

2012 Record: 17-4-1, 8-2-0
2012 Postseason: NCAA tournament (lost in third round, 2-1, to Connecticut in double overtime)
Coach: Jeremy Fishbein

The fortunes of Lobo soccer will revolve around seniors Kyle Venter and Michael Calderon, two veterans who have already received preseason recognition. Together, these two and others on the squad helped the Lobos to a scoring average of 2.55 goals per game, which ranked second in the NCAA behind Maryland. James Rogers, whose eight goals ranked second on the team, is back for another season. As a team, New Mexico’s defense was solid as the Lobos allowed only 16 goals. The defense was particularly strong early allowing only 73 shots and if it can keep up the pace, then New Mexico will have a fighting chance.

New Mexico is moving to a new conference full of unfamiliar teams, and it is doing so without two notable faces. Devon Sandoval, whose 15 goals far and away led the Lobos squad a year ago, is now an alumnus of the school. Also graduated is goalkeeper Victor Rodriguez, who compiled a 15-3-0 record while handling the bulk of goalie duties. These are two faces that won’t be easy to replace, and going up against schools with no track record will make things a little harder for the Lobos down the stretch. The team also needs to find a helper for players to score goals, as Blake Smith and his 13 assists have also departed Albuquerque.

Final Projection:
Conference USA is one of the stronger conferences for men’s soccer in the country, and that should help New Mexico transition to a new league, but not without a few speed bumps. A softer schedule at the start should also help the Lobos get some land legs in the new surroundings. Top C-USA programs do not appear on the Lobos’ schedule until the second half of the season, so New Mexico could have anywhere between 8 and 10 victories on its plate before serious C-USA action gets underway. If New Mexico can rack up double-digit victories and approach the top half of the conference, another tournament berth should not be an issue. The bigger problem will be replacing all those familiar faces and getting back all that production.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
Goals: James Rogers, Junior, F/MF, 8
Assists: Michael Calderon, Senior, MF, 8
Shots: Michael Calderon, Senior, MF, 58
Saves: Patrick Poblete, Junior, GK, 21

Madness 2014 MLS Draft Rankings:
#5 Kyle Venter


See All Men's Soccer Top 44 Team Previews