New Mexico Tops Men's Soccer Coaches' Poll

New Mexico's Blake Smith

Aug. 8, 2012

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As the nation's lone undefeated team in 2011 (18-0-4), New Mexico recorded 47 points and five of the seven possible first-place votes in taking the No. 1 spot in this year's MPSF Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll. The 2012 Lobos return all but two starters. All-MPSF goalkeeper Victor Rodriguez notched all 18 wins a year ago, ten shutouts (two more combined), and 63 saves. The dozen shutouts was the second most by a Lobo `keeper in single-season team history. His 0.50 goals-against average for the year ranked fourth in the coun¬try, and broke the program's all-time season record in that statistical category. Other New Mexico All-Conference returnees include forwards Blake Smith, Devon Sandoval, and James Rogers, along with defenders Mathew Gibbons, Travis Campbell, and Kyle Venter. Fellow 2011 NCAA Tournament participant CSU Bakersfield was only two points from the top of the poll, collecting 45, along with the remaining three first-place votes. The Pacific Division Champs return eight starters, and five of its top-six point leaders, including MPSF Player of the Year Gyasi Zardes (18G/2A/38P), Chuy Sanchez (3G/13A/19P), Kory Kindle, Ernesto Hinojosa, and Lucas Dall'Orso. Senior goalkeeper Eric Shannon also returns from the all-conference team (0.81 GAA, .806 Save %). Air Force and Denver tied for third in the poll with 30 points apiece. The Falcons return nine starters, led by midfielders Kevin Durr and Caleb Downey, along with forward Garrett Getschow, defender Eric Tise, and `keeper Matt Underwood, each All-MPSF honorees. The Pioneers, meanwhile, welcome back Drew Beckie (first-team All-MPSF Defender), Brian Hoyt, Zach Bolden, and goalkeeper Oliver Brown. San Jose State totaled 27 points in fifth, as Nick Murphy, Steve Sanchez, and Ricky Martin highlight the returning group. UNLV collected 22 points for sixth, as reigning MPSF Newcomer of the Year Salvador Bernal is back, along with Nick Marshall and Jonny Espinoza. Forward Marshall Kosaka is considered a top returnee for Seattle U, who picked up 16 points, followed by first-year MPSF member Houston Baptist to complete the poll. The Huskies split their four games in the Atlantic South Conference last year, led by seven points from midfield Zach Pierce. The 2012 season opens August 24 for MPSF teams, while the first of the 10-game conference schedule kicks off during the weekend of September 29. The University of New Mexico hosts the MPSF Championship Tournament, November 8-11, with the winner automatically advancing to the NCAA Tournament.