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College soccer update: New Mexico thriving; Xavier nets a slick bike (video)

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The 5-1-1 New Mexico Lobos are off to another strong start, and head coach Jeremy Fishbein likes what’s in their guts.

“These guys don’t allow things to distract them from their main goals,” said Fishbein of his squad, which jumped 10 spots to No. 7 in this week’s national poll, “To be excellent students and great players”

Led by six-goal man Chris Wehan and U.S. College ID camp invitee Niko Hansen, the Lobos are off to a hot start (the only loss to then-No.1 UCLA). The success is nothing new to the club, but the side looks as lively as ever this year.

The Lobos have been to two College Cups and a national championship game under Fishbein, who took over in 2001, but the boss says his job has remained the same when it comes to identifying players. He gets higher-profile recruits through the door, but they still fit the mettle and motto of his program.

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“It’s (about) hard-working, caring people,” Fishbein said. “We want to attract those guys. As our reputation has grown, we’ve been able to get a higher level player but not at the expense of great students and people who want to be in the community.”

Fishbein’s crew has been paced in attack by a pair of players with 23-plus shots to start the season: Hansen and Wehan. Both juniors — Wehan is a redshirt — the latter has been particularly deadly. He’s put three of six goals home for match-winners.

“Most valuable is his leadership and his humility,” Fishbein said. “That’s probably his most valuable quality. The goals were great but it’s more than we can expect out of any individual player. He’s a special person, a quality person.”

New Mexico is the last Conference USA school to begin conference play, and it does so with a doozy of a cross-country trip to face the South Carolina Gamecocks, a crafty side led by D-2 transfer Danny Deakin’s four goals.

“It’s a challenging place to play,” Fishbein said. “We haven’t been there in two years. We have some goals. We want to continue to grow.”

Three stars

  1. Gordon Wild, USC Upstate — What a difference a freshman can make. The German import has 12 goals in 6 games to start his college career, as the Spartans have opened the season 4-2. While his big goal performances — 4, 2, 1, 3, 2 in his last five matches — have come mostly against struggling competition, you can’t argue 12 goals in 6 matches. Looking at the Spartans’ slate the rest of the way, Wild’s number could be, well, wild at the end of the year.
  2. St. Francis Brooklyn — After a 5-0 win at Howard, the Terriers have allowed a grand total of 1 goal in their 5-0-2 start. That’s a 0.13 goals against average, and included is a draw against UConn. Starting goalkeeper Jack Binks has played all but 16 minutes of the season.
  3. Jorge Gomez Sanchez, Temple — The junior midfielder transfered from Universidad Europea, and the Spaniard has not taken long to adjust to the U.S. game. Gomez Sanchez scored a hat trick in a 3-0 win over Penn this weekend, giving him 10 goals — five of them game-winners — in the No. 17 Owls’ 6-0-1 start.

Other notes

— What say you to this bike goal from Xavier’s Alex Ridsdale?

— There are only a few unbeaten, undrawn teams remaining in the men’s Division I ranks: No. 1 Creighton (6-0), No. 8 Elon (7-0) and… Columbia. The 4-0 Ivy Leaguers received 14 points in the latest rankings. They’ve beaten Providence already, and get New Hampshire this weekend.

— Denver University is up to No. 12 in the polls, and they’ve done it without a player scoring more than three goals. Five have two or more, and that includes redshirt junior Chandler Crosswait, who has two goals and four assists.

— Also No. 1: Charleston (Men’s D2), Tufts (Men’s D3), Virginia (Women’s D1), Central Missouri (Women’s D2), Messiah (Women’s D3).

Slow start dooms Southampton again: “We lost the game in first half”

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Slow starts are, ironically, quickly becoming the story of Southampton’s Premier League season. It happened again on Friday, resulting in a 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. In those four games, they have taken just one point. When scoring the game’s first goal, they have two wins and two clean sheets.

It would appear that Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side is set up to play one way, and one way only. Speaking after Friday’s defeat, Hasenhuttl lamented his side’s slow start, conceding that the game was all but lost when they fell 2-0 behind in the 35 minutes — quotes from the BBC:

“The finish was not important anymore. If you lose 2-1 or 3-1 it does not make too much difference. We lost the game in the first half.

“In the second half, we were sharp. Had about 26 shots to six from Bournemouth but the most important stat is the goals. They scored three, we scored once.

“We weren’t aggressive enough and too easy in the first half. It is not easy to be 1-0 down after 10 minutes. We had a lot of blocked shots and misses near the post. It was a good performance in the second half but without a result.

“For the second goal was had a lot of players in our attacking box so it was not easy to defend.

“We showed a good reaction because we knew we needed to be brave. We changed our shape and were aggressive for the second ball. It gave us 64% possession and we had a lot of shots. Maybe we didn’t deserve to take something because of our first half.”

Southampton’s next chance to start a game quickly will come in an away bout with Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.

Bournemouth carried over the line by ‘fight and belief’

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It wasn’t pretty — at least not in the second half — but Bournemouth had enough “fight and belief” to get themselves over the line for a first-ever win away to Southampton on Friday.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

Speaking after the game, Cherries manager Eddie Howe was obviously pleased by the victory in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry, but quickly turned his attention to a list of areas in which his team came up short and was perhaps fortunate to hold onto a 2-1 lead prior to Callum Wilson‘s gifted goal in the 95th minute — quotes from the BBC:

“It was a nice moment. We rarely get those moments in football where you get that pure emotion and joy for a few seconds. Then you start thinking about next week.

“You want the players brought down to earth because you want the focus on consistent success. In the first, half we were okay. We didn’t hit the heights we are capable of. We were scrappy and didn’t keep the ball as well as I wanted, but we had spirit and sometimes that’s the most important thing.

“In the second half, we were reactive and looked tired and that’s where we needed to show our heart to see the game out. There were some heroics from our goalkeeper too.”

As for defender Nathan Ake, scorer of Bournemouth’s first goal, it was all about digging deep for the desire and will to win. The 24-year-old has established himself as one of the first names on Howe’s teamsheet every week at this point.

“It was a very tough game. The fans are buzzing. It was a great three points. The manager said to put the ball in the box.

“It was a great ball and it fell on my head. In the second half, we made it difficult for ourselves. We didn’t keep hold of the ball and had to defend more. The last result against Everton was great so it gives you confidence, but we had to fight and believe we could win.”

Had you offered anyone associated with Bournemouth 10 points from their first six games, they would have snatched your hand off to take them. A thoroughly solid start to the season. Up next is a visit from ninth-place West Ham United next Saturday.

Bournemouth picks up first-ever win away to Southampton

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Bournemouth picked up its first-ever victory (16 visits – all competitions) away to Southampton in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry, 3-1 at St. Mary’s Stadium on Friday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Nathan Ake and Harry Wilson got goals for Eddie Howe‘s side during a wonderfully dominant first-half performance before the roles were reversed in the second half. James Ward-Prowse pulled Southampton back to 2-1 not long after halftime and Saints pressed and pressed for an equalizer but ultimately came up empty. To make matters worse, Callum Wilson put the game away on a late Saints howler.


3 things we learned

  1. Slow starts for Saints — Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. For a team that’s built around the idea of defensive solidity and limiting chances, Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side appears especially limited once forced to change its plan of attack and… well, attack. In the two games they didn’t concede first, two clean sheets and two wins.
  2. Halftime adjustments — Hasenhuttl certainly got his tactics wrong from the start, but whatever was said at halftime made a noticeable difference in the second half. Given loads more freedom to push forward in attack and to win back possession, Southampton made it a game from 45:01 onward.
  3. Making few chances count a lot — Bournemouth needed just six shots to get their two goals. On the other hand, they managed just six shots in 90 minutes. Highly efficient, or lacking in overall production? Both, perhaps?

Man of the Match: Oriol Romeu


Ake put the Cherries ahead in the 10th minute, rising high above the crowd to get his head to Diego Rico‘s corner kick. It was Bournemouth’s fifth goal (of nine scored) from a set piece this season.

It didn’t take long for Bournemouth to easily cut through Saints’ four-man backline — a tactical change from the three-man operation which secured a victory away to Sheffield United last weekend — and put the ball in the back of the net again. Joshua King finished a devastating counter-attack with a sublime finish, only to have the goal taken off the board for being narrowly offside, via video review.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Once again, Bournemouth met little resistance en route to doubling their lead, only this time the goal stood. Philip Billing got to the endline down the left side of Saints’ penalty area and cut the ball back to the penalty spot where Wilson was waiting to sweep it past a helpless Angus Gunn.

Saints were gifted their way back into the game in the 52nd minute, when Steve Cook went straight through Che Adams as Southampton broke down the left side of the box. Ward-Prowse stepped up to the spot and hammered the ball past Aaron Ramsdale to cut the deficit in half.

Saints’ best chance at drawing level came in the 82nd minute, but Ward-Prowse was denied Ramsdale from close range, and though he spilled the rebound in front of goal, Bournemouth were able to clear the ball away in just the nick of time.

Gunn and center back Jannik Vestergaard ran into one another outside the Saints penalty area in the 95th minute, allowing Wilson to pick the ball up and walk it over the end line for the late exclamation point on Bournemouth’s historic night.

Bournemouth’s defensive desperation was such that they attempted just the six shots in the game, including zero between the 38th and 85th minutes. Alas, Saints couldn’t find the equalizer and Bournemouth catapulted all the way up to third in the PL, for the time being.

Watch Live: Southampton v. Bournemouth

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Southampton takes on Bournemouth in a battle of south-coast clubs at the St. Mary’s Stadium (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Both teams enter the match with seven points, and a win can, for the time being, vault either side into the top four until the rest of the weekend’s games take place.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Interestingly, Southampton have ruled the roost when it comes to matchups against Bournemouth. Southampton has won three, drawn four and lost just once in Premier League matches against Bournemouth, but perhaps this time it could be different.

Both teams are coming off wins, though Bournemouth’s 3-1 shock of Everton could be seen as more impressive than Southampton’s 1-0 victory over Sheffield United.

Watch the game with us at the link above, and stay on PST for analysis and reaction at halftime and following the final whistle.


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