New Mexico 2015 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School - New Mexico
Conference - Conference USA
Coach - Jeremy Fishbein (14th Season)
Background - The Lobos have become a perennial power in college soccer. During the thirteen seasons that Jeremy Fishbein has been the head coach at New Mexico the Lobos have earned ten invites to the NCAA Tournament, advanced to the Sweet Sixteen five times, and played their way into the Final Four in 2012 and in 2005 when they advanced to the national championship contest. New Mexico became a member of Conference USA in 2013. Prior to that they played in the Mountain Pacific Sport Federation. The Lobos were 11-6-1 overall in 2014 with a 4-4-0 mark in conference play. Midfielders Chris Wehan and Ben McKendry were named to the 2014 All-Conference USA First Team. Defenders Matthew Gibbons and Nick Miele and forward James Rogers were 2014 All-Conference USA Second Team selections and forward Niko Hansen was a Third Team selection. The Lobos were a bit of an enigma in 2014. After beginning the season with high hopes and a promising start, New Mexico uncharacteristically stumbeled down the home stretch losing three out of their last four contests and failed to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2008 season. Not earning an invite to the NCAA Tourney last year was a disappointing outcome for the Lobos. Teams judge their seasons based on their own standards which are determined overtime by the level of success that the program has enjoyed. The standards are high at New Mexico where an NCAA Tournament berth is now the norm and thus an expectation. 
Offense - The Lobos will be without the services of forward James Rogers (4g, 5a) and midfielder Oniel Fisher (3g, 1a) due to graduation and center midfielder Ben McKendry (2g, 2a) who elected to forgo his senior season to sign a homegrown contract with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Rogers, who was drafted by Sporting KC, netted a total of twenty-two goals and contributed twenty assists during a very productive stay in Albuquerque. Fisher, who played for two seasons at Tyler Junior College before transferring to New Mexico in 2013, was drafted by the Seattle Sounders in the second round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. McKendry served as the team catalyst and playmaker on the offensive side of the ball. The role he played may prove to be the most challenging void to fill. On the plus side, redshirt junior midfielder Chris Wehan (10g, 2a) who was named to the Missouri Athletic Club's 2015 Hermann Trophy watch list and junior forward Niko Hansen (5g, 3a) who was one of twenty-eight players invited to the U.S. U-23 Olympic Team Camp return to power the Lobo offense. Both have been impact players since arriving on campus and are proven goal scorers. Wehan and Hansen have the potential to be among the top offensive duos in the country in 2015 with the explosive ability to take over a contest. They will likely be counted upon to provide the bulk of the scoring for New Mexico in 2015 but will need assitance from others. In that regard, sophomore forward Sam Gleadle (0g, 3a) who appeared in every game last year with one start should also figure prominently in the Lobo attack. Albuquerque natives senior Josh Dye (0g, 1a) who was a starter last year and junior Josh Goss (2g, 2a) who played in eighteen games with six starts are among returning midfielders who look to play key roles in 2015. Another big plus is the availablilty in 2015 of redshirt senior Adrian Mora Delgado who has been hampered with injuries in the past and redshirt freshman Patrick Khouri who took a redshirt season last year. Redshirt freshmen Wayne Scibilia, Matt Dorsey, Gabriel Camera, and Olav Hovstad are among others who will seek to play a greater role in the midfield or in the back in 2015. Freshman midfielder Simon Spangenberg from Belgium is among the members of the recruiting class who could contribute to the offense right away.  
Defense - Solid team defense has always been a staple at New Mexico. The graduation of Matt Gibbons (0g, 2a), Nick Miele (1g, 0a), and Riley McGovern (1g, 1a) means that rebuilding will be required on the defensive side of the ball. The good news is that redshirt junior center back Chris Gurule (0g, 3a) and sophomore goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu who were starters last year return to provide a solid foundation upon which to build the defense. Both were part of a New Mexico defensive effort last year that recorded a 0.88 goals against average. Junior Nick Rochowski who had an impressive spring season will likely join Gurule at center back. Junior transfer Yuri Domiciano who was an NSCAA First Team All-American at Iowa Western Communicty College last year and who also participated in the spring season looks to be in line for a starting role in the back. Highly regarded freshman Aaron Herrera out of the Real Salt Lake Academy should also be in the hunt of a starting spot in the back. Beaulieu gives the Lobos an experienced presence between the pipes which is a big plus when rebuilding is taking place.  

Newcomers - Four Star Recruiting Class 

Coach Fishbein stated, "This group of student-athletes will represent Albuquerque, the state of New Mexico and our University in explerary fashion. Each young man possesses and displays the attributes which define our program: excellence in the classroom, excellence in the community, and excellence on the playing field."

Devin Boyce - Midfielder - St. Louis, Missouri - Christian Brothers College - Played for St. Louis Scott Gallagher. 

Yuri Domiciano - Defender - Belo Horizonte, Brazil - Junior transfer from Iowa Western where he was an NSCAA First Team Junior College All-American.

Aaron Herrera - Defender - Las Cruces, New Mexico - Played for Real Salt Lake Academy. Attended training camp with the U.S. U-18 National Team in October 2014. 

Kasper Kajermo - Midfielder - Stockholm, Sweden - Played for Hammerby IF's U-19 and U-21 teams. Has nine years experience with Swedish professional soccer clubs.

Andy Rios - Goalkeeper - HIghlands, Texas - Goose Creek Memorial High School - Played for MLS Houston Dynamo's USSDA academy. Development Academy Central Conference Starting XI. 

Simon Spangenberg - Midfielder - Brussels, Belgium - Played for the U-21 Waasland-Beveren in Belgium's first division. Also played for White Star Woluwe FC

Francesco Casucci - Midfielder - Puglia, Italy - Killian Oaks Academy - Played with the U-20 Torino of Serie A in Italy. 

Prognosis for 2015 - The 2014 season is now in the rearview mirror for the Lobos but chances are pretty good that New Mexico will enter the 2015 season hungry and highly motivated to return to the NCAA Tournament field and to accomplish the other team goals that they narrowly missed last year.  At first glance, it appears the graduation of forward James Rogers (4g, 5a), midfielder Oneil Fisher (3g, 1a), defenders Nick Miele (1g, 0a), Riley McGovern (1g, 1a) and Matthew Gibbbons (0g, 2a) and goalkeeper Patrick Poblete along with the decision of center midfielder Ben McKendry to forgo his senior season to enter the professional ranks significantly depleated the talent level at New Mexico. While they will no doubt be missed and their departure leaves some voids that must be filled, a second look shows that the Lobos return a considerable amount of talent on both sides of the ball around which to build. The challenge is that some of that talent is untested. Chris Wehan and Niko Hansen, who were New Mexico's top goal scorers last year return on the offensive side of the ball. Both are proven goal scorers. Perhaps the biggest unanswered question is who will fill the playmaker role that exists due to the departure of center midfielder Ben McKendry. The ability of a few of the players who were redshirts last year or the newcomers to contribute immediately will likely have a big impact on New Mexico's performance in 2015. The Lobos held opponents to a total of sixteen goals last year with is very good from a statistical perspective. However, if you had to identity a single flaw it would be that they allowed eight of those sixteen goals during the last four games of the season. Senior back Josh Dye and sophomore goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu return to provide stability and continuity on the defensive side of the ball. However, the ability of junior center back Nick Rochowski to assume a greater role, for back Yuri Domiciano to make a succesful transition to the Divison I level, and for others like freshman defender Aaron Herrera to contribute look to be keys on the defensive side of the ball in 2015. It is also noteworthy that New Mexico was 3-1 last year in conference play when playing at home but 1-3 when playing away from home. The Lobos have to improve on the road in conference play while holding serve at home if they hope to move upward in the Conference USA standings in 2015. Last year New Mexico lost to Charlotte, Kentucky, and UAB in conference play on the road. The schedule looks conducive to improvement in that area in 2015 since the Lobos host Charlotte, Kentucky and UAB while taking to the road to tangle with South Carolina, Old Dominion, Marshall and FIU. New Mexico took an uppercut to the chin last year when they failed to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. How they respond to that in 2015 should be interesting. The bottom line is that the Lobo's overall talent level is as good as it has been in the past but the fact that several few faces will have to play key roles injects uncertainty as well as excitement heading into the 2015 season.     

 

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