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Senior forward Jennifer Williams holds the ball up against Wyoming last Sunday at University Stadium. The Lobos travel to California to take on UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament tomorrow.

Notre Dame game causes a sense of déjà vu

After losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year, the time for redemption draws near for the women’s soccer team.

UNM faces the No. 2 seed of their region, the No. 9 UCLA Bruins in their second-straight NCAA tournament.

Last year the Lobos fell in their NCAA tournament appearance to eventual champion Notre Dame, 3-0.

Senior midfielder Jael Fanning, who was named First-Team Academic All-District on Wednesday, said this year the team looks better fit to take on UCLA.

“Last time they were really good at attacking and they had the will to win,” Fanning said. “They attacked pretty hard, but we’ve come a long way since our freshman year as a senior class and we’re ready for the challenge.”

The Bruins concluded the regular season 15-1-3, finishing second in the Pac-10, its only loss to No. 2 Stanford.

The Lobos are on a five-game winning streak of its own since tying Wyoming on Oct. 14. The streak helped UNM accumulate a 12-4-4 record overall along with the Mountain West Conference regular season and tournament title.

Junior midfielder Rachel Montoya said the momentum the Lobos had over the course of the season will help them against the Bruins.

“Going undefeated (in conference) into this game is really good for us because we have that feeling that we haven’t lost and we want to keep on going and keep playing,” Montoya said.

Fanning said the experience against the Fighting Irish helped UNM improve from last season and the stiffer competition they faced over the course of this season as well.

“Notre Dame was a phenomenal team,” she said. “It was a good experience playing them; they played at a different pace. They played really quick and were beyond aggressive.”

Montoya said the team is different than last year because of the experience they gained in playing Notre Dame in last season’s NCAA tournament.

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“We definitely feel a lot of emotion right now,” she said. “We played Notre Dame last year, which was a great for us, and we got our nerves out by making our first appearance in the NCAA tournament.”

Up Next
Women’s Soccer vs. UCLA
Saturday, 8 p.m.
Los Angles, Calif.

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