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Senior Jordan Craig clashes with two Wyoming defenders for the ball on Sunday at the UNM Soccer Complex. The Lobos face SDSU today in a battle of the top two teams in the MWC.

Lobos take on No. 1 Aztecs in game of pride

Coming off two wins last weekend, the UNM women’s soccer team faces its toughest conference foe yet. With the No. 2 seed in the Mountain West tournament locked up, the Lobos travel to San Diego today to finish up the regular season.

Waiting for them in Southern California are the Aztecs of San Diego State. Ranked No. 6 in the latest NSCAA poll, the Aztecs are undefeated in MWC play this year and have secured the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.

“I’m looking forward to beating them,” UNM junior midfielder Elba Holguin said. “I want to beat them, and I’m pretty sure the whole team wants to beat them.”

Though the game has no impact on conference standings, UNM head coach Kit Vela said nothing has changed in this week’s preparation.

“It’s conference: There is no love lost between us and San Diego State,” she said. “There is a lot of pride that goes into this game; I don’t think we need to get up for it.”

The game will showcase the two best defenses in the Mountain West.

San Diego State leads the conference, allowing an average of just 0.61 goals per game, while UNM ranks second, allowing an average of 0.88 goals per game. Aztec sophomore goalie Rachel Boaz leads the conference in both average goals allowed per game and save percentage.

“I think we’re all pretty confident in our skill level,” Lobo senior forward Stephanie Rowe said. “Every goalie is going to have their strengths and their faults. Hopefully we can find those faults and capitalize on them.”

This is the last game before the Lobos return to San Diego for the Mountain West tournament. The first round of the tournament is Wednesday, though the Lobos have earned a bye and will not play until the semifinal round on Friday. The Lobos will face the winner of the No. 3 versus No. 6 matchup in the semifinal round.

The remaining seeds will be determined this weekend.

“Really what we’re looking forward to is the conference tournament, because the game really doesn’t mean anything to either of the teams except for pride,” Vela said. “We’re both very prideful teams, so I think it’s going to be a great game. But as far as what it actually means, I think it’s preparation for where we want to go.”

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