Solid at the back and exciting attacking play—but few goals, a factor that has kept the Lobos from winning more games in the early part of the season. But against Houston, the Lobos were able to convert.
UNM established possession early on, and in the 13th minute, senior forward Eileen Zendejas, placed a driven shot just wide of the goal on a one vs. one with Houston junior goalkeeper Rachel Estopare.
Despite the early pressure from UNM, it was Houston that struck first. A corner headed clear by the UNM defense was delivered back into the box for senior defender Margo McEntire, who flicked the ball off of the post and in.
It appeared that the Lobos would enter halftime down 1-0, but in the 43rd minute, a scramble in the Houston penalty area following a Lobo long-throw ended up at the feet of freshman forward Jenna Killman, who slotted the ball low past Estopare.
The Lobos looked dangerous on set pieces throughout the night, and in the 65th minute, junior defender Jessica Nelson whipped in a corner for sophomore midfielder Jesse Hix, who crashed the ball in with her head from inside the six-yard box.
The Lobos added a third two minutes later. Sophomore forward Jill Olguin’s pass into the penalty area found Killman—and like with her first goal, the Olympia, Washington native beat Estopare at the far post, putting the Lobos up 3-1 and doubling her collegiate tally.
“I have to give all of the credit to my teammates,” Killman said. “They’ve been pushing me harder and harder in training. It’s such a good feeling especially when I can put the team on the board—and of course that’s what I want to do for the team.”
Houston, with less possession than the Lobos, still managed to generate opportunities throughout the game. After the third Lobo goal, it appeared that the Cougars might let up, but instead they made it interesting.
Houston senior midfielder Selena Peters, in the 72nd minute and with her back turned away from the UNM goal, received a pass, and after turning onto her left foot, lifted the ball over UNM sophomore goalkeeper Emily Johnson to bring the deficit back to one goal.
Houston continued to press for an equalizer until the final whistle. The Cougars struck the crossbar and shot wide several times, but UNM was able to close out the 3-2 victory.
“That’s the crazy thing about soccer, it’s such an ebb and flow game,” UNM head coach Heather Dyche said. “Even when we were up 3-1 I still thought it was a pretty back and forth game, and I thought both teams played well.”
The Lobos outshot the Cougars 21-13, and Johnson made a total of four saves, all in the first half. UNM freshman forward Leilani Baker picked up what appears to be an ankle injury in the first half, and it is unclear how long she will be sidelined for.
The Lobos will play again on Sunday against Northern Arizona University at 1:00 p.m. MT at the UNM Soccer Complex.
Matthieu Cartron is a beat writer 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.