After beating Wyoming 3-2 in Laramie, Wyoming, on Sunday, the Lobos (12-6, 7-3 MW) guaranteed themselves a place in the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
The Lobos narrowly missed out on the conference tournament last year—in part because of a 3-0 home loss to Wyoming.
In the build up to the game on Sunday, UNM head coach Heather Dyche said her team would be looking to avenge themselves for last season’s loss.
Heading into the game, Wyoming (7-9-2, 3-6-1 MW) was looking to keep their conference tournament hopes alive. Two wins in their final two games would have brought the Cowgirls up to 18 points—potentially enough to seal conference qualification. This was a must-win game for Wyoming.
The Lobos dealt the Cowgirl’s conference hopes an early blow. In the 8th minute, senior defender Alexa Cabrales launched a long throw-in into the Wyoming penalty area, which was flicked backward and into the net by Cowgirl junior forward Jemma House.
The score remained 1-0 headed into halftime, but in the second half, both teams opened up.
In the 49th minute, a low, long-range effort from junior Annika Clayton slipped through the hands of UNM sophomore goalkeeper Emily Johnson and trickled into the net, tying the game 1-1.
The Lobos were able to regain their lead only three minutes later. A UNM corner kick was headed clear but only as far as senior forward Eileen Zendejas, whose left-footed shot found the middle of the goal. This was Zendejas’ first goal of the season.
In the 68th minute, UNM added a third. Junior defender Jessica Nelson’s flip-throw in was half-volleyed at the top of the Wyoming penalty area by UNM senior forward Claire Lynch. The ball looped onto the crossbar and dropped in front of the goal for Lobo sophomore midfielder Jessie Hix, who stooped to head the ball from point blank-range.
All three Lobo goals came off of set pieces, and Hix’s goal is her sixth of the season.
The Cowgirls pulled a second goal back in the 84th minute through junior forward Brittney Stark, who tucked in a lay off in the box from Jemma House.
The Cowgirls pushed for an equalizer, but the Lobos were able to seal the 3-2 victory—clinching conference qualification and maintaining the second place slot in the conference standings.
The top two seeds in the conference standings receive a bye to the semifinals of the conference tournament. San Jose State leads the standings with 25 points, and is mathematically guaranteed to finish in the top slot.
Both Boise State and San Diego State have 20 points and are the only two teams apart from the Lobos that could finish second. The Lobos will host San Diego State on Friday, and a UNM win would guarantee a second place finish.
The Aztecs (9-7-2, 6-2-2 MW) are coming off of a 3-0 win against Colorado State. The Lobos beat the Aztecs last season in the final game of the conference 2-1 through an overtime penalty kick from former Lobo Brooke Webster.
Kickoff between the Lobos and the Aztecs is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct 27, at the UNM Soccer Complex. Friday will also be senior day for Dyche’s side.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cartron_matt.