The University of New Mexico men’s soccer team is set to step on its home field for the last time on Saturday night.
The regular season is quickly wrapping up, and with no spring season being given to the team (set to be discontinued in the summer), players could be out of here as soon as the 2018 academic semester is over.
On April 14, New Mexico head coach Jeremy Fishbein sent out an email saying Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez told him the men’s soccer team could be in danger of being discontinued. Fast forward to Oct. 23, and Fishbein is a telling the media about how 20 out of 24 players have registered for the new NCAA transfer data base (which opened on Oct. 15).
“Last week was spent fielding calls on players and players looking to transfer,” the coach said. “I guess it didn’t really occur to me until today when my assistant coach said, ‘Yeah, last week Kentucky was preparing all week for our game, and our guys were preparing to go some place else.’ As a head coach, I just feel awful.”
A week before, Fishbein talked about how his players looking at other options was one of the most painful things he had ever experienced as a coach.
New Mexico is coming in from a rough 6-1 loss to the then-No. 3 Kentucky. The coach pointed out that this was the worst defeat the team has had since he’s been at UNM. He called it a “surreal” and “humbling” experience.
He mentioned how unfortunate it was that most of the attention regarding his program has revolved around the discontinuation and not the actual players or soccer.
“It’s 24/7. You wake up in the middle of the night thinking about things. No rest. It affects things,” Fishbein said. “It’s starting to affect things at home. That was probably my biggest bummer this week. My wife is a tough lady, but man, she is (pause), yeah, I feel pretty bad this week.”
Although there will be no spring season, Fishbein has a job with the university until next summer. He said he plans to represent the school as best as he can until then. He explained he likes to wear Lobo gear whenever he travels in hopes people will ask questions about New Mexico, which he called “the greatest state in the U.S.”
Something Fishbein was proud of since he became head coach in 2002 was how Lobos performed at home. New Mexico had not lost more than three games in Albuquerque in a single season. This year, the Lobos are 4-10 overall, with six of those losses coming from home matches.
New Mexico is hosting Marshall on Saturday for senior night. With this being the last scheduled game Fishbein coaches in front of Lobo fans, how is he approaching it? The reality is tough, so he tries to put it in the back of his mind.
“For me as a coach, it’s the final game of the regular season. That’s how I enter this game. I can’t have the mentaily of anything beyond that,” he explained. “That’s kinda been my approach this year. I have to take it for what it is. I can’t look beyond, individually or as a program. Regardless of what other people may say, I believe in what we are doing and I believe in our guys. That will never change.”