NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – In this edition of the Sports Desk we start with soccer, as the USL announced four groups, out of the total eight, that will represent the Western Conference for the upcoming restart of the USL season.
New Mexico United landed in Group C which is one of the toughest in the Western Conference. New Mexico United have three opponents in Group C which will include: the reigning USL Champion Real Monarchs, El Paso Locomotive, and Colorado Switchbacks. New Mexico United will play a 15-game season, after dropping their opener in March to Austin Bold, but they will play each member in their group four times during the regular season.
“It’s going to be competitive, but I like our region. I think it matches up well with our style of play, but it’s great to wrap around your head around the fact of knowing what the schedule really looks like now. We know those 12 games, four against each opponent are right there in front of us,” said New Mexico United Head Coach Troy Lesesne.
There are a lot of unknowns headed into this season restart, as New Mexico United doesn’t know if they will get to play their allotted eight home games as the state’s restrictions on sporting events are still in place, but their main focus will be on winning and with a shortened schedule the field is wide open.
“For us when you look at it, it’s going to be a sprint. You don’t have 34 games to prepare for, there is 15 games in front of us in a condensed window of time. So, with 4 or 5 matches in and you don’t have a great record, it could go the other way quickly and that’s up to us to try and control what we can control,” said Lesesne. The 2020 USL season is set to pick back up on July 11.
Moving on to the high school ranks, Sandia High School junior, Adriana Tatum was named the Gatorade New Mexico Track & Field Athlete of The Year on Thursday. Tatum is now a back to back recipient of this award.
“I first would like to thank god for winning this award because without him I wouldn’t be the athlete that I am today, and I am so thankful, I am so honored, and I am so humbled to win this award for the second time. It means so much to me because it means all the hard work, the late nights, and the soreness leading up to this wasn’t for nothing and it really motivates me to keep pushing and to keep working hard,” said Adriana Tatum.
Now to football, Eastern New Mexico University had the winningest college football team in the state of New Mexico in 2019. They held an 8-4 overall record and also notched the program’s first-ever Division II Bowl Victory. The Greyhounds hope to keep that momentum headed into their 2020 season.
“We want to build on that past experience you know. We have been in the postseason several times now in bowl games and got a victory this year at the Heritage Bowl, and our kids really want to take that next step and get into the NCAA Playoffs. You know, there is 172 division schools that compete for 28 playoff spots. So, you know it’s challenging and we play one of the toughest schedules in the country and we just got to keep grinding forward and finding ways to squeak out wins and build on what we got,” said Eastern New Mexico University Head Football Coach Kelley Lee.
Coach Lee has definitely laid a strong foundation at ENMU, as he holds a 21-12 record heading into his fourth season as head coach. Lee says, that a big reason why this team has been successful as of late is because of primarily in-state players on his roster.
“Oh, it’s been huge, I can’t even put into words really, the New Mexico kids have been a driving force to our success. You know, I see other people have taken notice of that and they are trying to do that as well and that’s great for the state of New Mexico,” said Lee.
ENMU is set to open their season on September 12 at Adams State.
Let’s finish with Thursday’s edition of The Lost Season, as we profile Bernalillo stand out softball player Gabriella Montoya.
“Hi my name is Gabriella Montoya and I graduated from Bernalillo High School. I play softball, basketball, and volleyball and I got a scholarship to Trinidad State. My freshman and sophomore year I got 1st-Team All-State for softball and my junior year I got 2nd-Team All-State. The virus definitely impacted me a lot because I wasn’t able to play my senior year, but as time went by I finally saw it as an opportunity for me to get better. I definitely have memories that I will cherish forever. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my coaches, my parents, or my friends for all of the support. I hope everyone is staying safe out there,” said Montoya.