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Friday, December 19, 2014

Women celebrate 20 years of soccer

sports@dailylobo.com
@RyanTomari

Bill Clinton was president, Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” won best picture at the Academy Awards and UNM’s women’s soccer team had just been created.

The year was 1993 and it’s hard to believe it was 20 years ago.
But two decades later, the Lobo women’s soccer team is strolling along and is stronger than it has ever been.

For 13 of those years head coach Kit Vela has been the face of the program.

And the last four seasons have been the best, as the Lobos have reached double-digit wins in all of those seasons, a Mountain West Conference tournament championship and back-to-back NCAA College Cup appearances in 2010 and 2011.

Vela said it’s been the consistency and hard work of her players that have kept the women’s soccer program sturdy over the years.
“I think we’ve been really good because we have great fans,” Vela said. “We have a lot of comfort (at the UNM Soccer Complex), and we play well here and I don’t think that is going to change.”

Liz Nare, who is one of six seniors on the Lobos in 2013, said she is proud to be a part of an emerging program.

“I started (at UNM) as a freshman and the program was just growing at that point,” Nare said. “The last few years have been great and we’re trying to further that. We’re going to try and break more records than we did my freshman year.”

While Vela and the Lobos look to make a push for the postseason, Vela will have to find out who will step up for the Lobos this season.

Vela has 35 roster spots with 25 underclassmen.

Vela said it’s going to take some time for the 2013 edition of women’s soccer to grow, even with the amount of success the program has seen in recent years.

“Our team chemistry is outstanding though,” Vela said. “It’s as good as it’s ever been and our leadership from our six seniors is as good as it’s ever been. With all that being said, I think conference this year is going to be one of the best ever. Every team can beat anyone on any given day and it’s going to beac very competitive and I think it’s going to come down to the wire this season.”

One of those senior leaders is midfielder Elba Holguin.

Holguin has been a part of the winning theme at UNM which includes the MWC tournament championship and an appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Holguin said what Vela and girls before her have accomplished at UNM is phenomenal.

“Honestly, I think it’s great,” she said. “We’ve come so far and Kit has been here for a lot of the seasons. Just knowing that she is excited every single year and every single year that we come back she is still telling us that we can be the best. It’s amazing and that it has been 20 years, it’s great.”