After a tough 1-0 loss to the University of Washington in overtime, the Lobos (3-3) are set to cap off their final two non-conference games at home.
The Lobos battled two strong squads in the University of Portland and the University of Washington in their two most recent games. UNM assistant coach Karley Nelson reiterated her satisfaction with the results, praising the energy level and the fight the Lobos displayed against two “tournament teams.”
UNM has struggled this season to convert its opportunities and make the most of its possession. The Lobos are ranked 34th in the NCAA for shots per game—shooting an average of 17 per game, three more than last season’s average. The defensive stats also bode well for UNM—only 9.3 shots allowed per game compared to last season’s 13.1.
Despite the improved stats, the Lobos have only scored four goals in their last six games—eight less than what the Lobos had after their first six games of the 2016 season.
The Lobos have conceded fewer goals though—four compared to last season’s nine after six games—and sophomore goalkeeper Emily Johnson has kept three clean sheets.
UNM will play the University of Houston on Friday night. The Cougars (3-2-1) are coming off of a 0-0 overtime draw to the University of Lamar, and before that a 4-1 win against Southern Miss.
Houston junior goalkeeper Rachel Estopare, after her performances against Southern Miss and Lamar, was awarded American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Week. Estopare has kept two clean sheets for the Cougars this season.
The Lobos will then take on Northern Arizona University (5-2) on Sunday afternoon. The Lumberjacks have won four of their last five games, and beat the University of the Pacific 2-1 most recently.
The University of Houston and NAU played one another back on August 20th, and it was the Cougars that came out on top, winning that contest 4-1. NAU’s second loss of the season came against UNLV, a side that has only lost once so far this season.
UNM and NAU played to a scoreless draw last season in Flagstaff, Arizona.
According to assistant coach Nelson, the key for the Lobos, in the upcoming fixtures, is sustained high-energy as well as finishing.
“As long as we can control our energy, good things tend to happen,” Nelson said. “So, I think that’s something that we will continue to focus on, and then hopefully we’ll then look to work on our final-third play and finishing.”
The Lobos will take on the University of Houston on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. MT and will play NAU on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. MT. Both games will be played at the UNM Soccer Complex.
Matthieu Cartron is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers women’s soccer and men’s tennis. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cartron_matt.