In their first seven games of the season (including the exhibition match with CSU-Pueblo) UNM scored a combined seven goals. And in their last two games, they equaled that tally.
The Lobos (5-3) beat the University of Houston (4-3-1) on Friday night in a fixture that saw both teams generate numerous opportunities. In previous games, the Lobos struggled to convert their opportunities. The Lobos were not only more clinical against Houston and NAU on Sunday afternoon — they were also more ruthless.
The first ten minutes of the game saw both sides create a few half-chances, but UNM snatched the momentum in the 27th minute when junior midfielder Jennifer Muñoz side-volleyed into the left corner of the goal from a UNM long throw-in.
And less than two minutes later, the Lobos doubled their lead. Sophomore midfielder Jessie Hix sprayed a ball out wide to senior defender Alexa Cabrales, who, after taking a few touches, delivered the ball into the box for Hix, who continued her run. With an angled header, Hix was able to direct Cabrales’ cross past NAU senior goalkeeper Meghan Dickmann and into the bottom right corner of the net.
After the back-to-back first half goals, NAU found little breathing room and seldom caused the UNM backline any trouble. After the opening goal, the Lumberjacks had only one shot during the 24th minute.
The score would stay 2-0 until the 65th minute. UNM’s senior forward Quincey Slora, after taking the ball down the left, cut in onto her right foot and curled a 30-yard, driving the shot into the right corner of the goal.
Hix, who had already scored and had fired a header pass on Houston two days before, netted her third goal of the season on another header. Senior forward Claire Lynch’s free kick from the left found the head of a stooping Hix, who nodded the ball low and into the bottom right corner.
“First one was straight to my head, and so I had to get it in,” Hix said. “Second one almost felt like slow-motion, but I saw it coming and I knew I had it — it was once again another great service.”
The games against Houston and NAU were the final two regular season games for the Lobos. They will begin conference play against UNLV, a team that has won seven games and lost only one this season.
The 4-0 scoreline against NAU was a “huge result” for the team. UNM head coach Heather Dyche praised her squad for their recent performances.
“I like that we can adjust, that we can have a lot of young players come on and be impactful,” Dyche said. “You don’t ever feel like there’s not a way for us to win. I’m excited going into conference — I think we have a different level than what we’ve had in previous years.”
Kickoff between the Lobos and the Rebels is on Friday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. MT at the UNM Soccer Complex.
Matthieu Cartron is a sports beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers women’s soccer and men’s tennis. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @cartron_matt.