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Midfielder Ashley Espinoza (22) places a shot past Air Force keeper Kelly Stambaugh during the Lobos’ rout of the Air Force Falcons. The Lobos are now 8-4-4 overall and 2-0-2 in conference play.

Falcons’ fierce second half stops shutout victory

After a 1-1 draw with Wyoming on Friday, the UNM women’s soccer team shot down Air Force with a 4-1 win.

The excitement started early for UNM when senior Jennifer Williams scored on a one-on-one opportunity against the Falcons’ goalkeeper in the 8th minute.

“Rachel (Montoya) got the ball and played a beautiful ball through,” Williams said. “I got past her and it was a wide open goal from there.”

No fewer than 20 seconds passed before junior Stephanie Rowe came through with another unassisted goal to put the Lobos up 2-0.

“I just had the chance … I haven’t been finishing my chances, and I knew that I might not get another one, so I knew I had to capitalize on it,” Rowe said.

Williams wasn’t finished; she scored yet again, but this time in the 12th minute with an assist from goal keeper Kelli Cornell.

The goal-scoring frenzy continued, and with less than a minute to play in the first half midfielder Ashley Espinoza added a goal of her own off of a UNM corner kick.

The second half was a different story. The Falcons fought back, stepped up their play and scored in the 57th minute with a goal from McKenna Fox.

Rowe said Air Force came back strong, but she said she knew her team would keep its poise for the win.

“I think they had a lot more attitude in the second half,” she said. “They were coming at us from everywhere. They were hard-hitting, and you could tell that they wanted to come back. We kept our cool and kept doing what we needed to do to keep our win.”

With the win, UNM improved to 8-4-4 overall and 2-0-2 in conference play, while the Falcons fell to 6-7-3 overall and 1-2-0 in the Mountain West.

Head coach Kit Vela said she thought the Lobos played well in the first half, but was she said she was frustrated with how they finished the game.

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“We created some good opportunities in the second half, but we were tired of getting kicked and we were a little too tentative,” Vela said. “We’re not a tentative team, but we didn’t play as we should have in the second half, so that cost us.”

Vela made nine substitutions, and she said she thought the replacements may have been part of the reason why the team didn’t play up to its potential in the second half.

“We lost some of the chemistry because I did make a lot of changes, but I wasn’t going to put Jennifer Williams back on to let her get kicked,” Vela said.

The Lobos lost assistant coach Jorge Vela during the game due to a red card for arguing with an Air Force coach over a tackle from Falcons’ Cassie Wilson on Williams. Jorge will also miss the next game against Boise State.

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