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Senior Rachel Montoya throws in the ball versus Wyoming on Sunday at the UNM Soccer Complex. The Lobos won 2-1 to improve to 10-5-2, 4-1-1 in the MWC.

Women win last home match, second-place ranking

assistantsports@dailylobo.com
@JROppenheim

The UNM women’s soccer team hasn’t had many home matches in 2012, but the Lobos have made the most of their time at the UNM Soccer Complex.

The Lobos won four of their five home matches, including their final one on Sunday with a 2-1 victory over Wyoming. Thanks to this win and Boise State’s 1-1 tie against UNLV, UNM (10-5-2, 4-1-1 MW) clinched at least second place in the MWC regular season.

UNM did not lose at the UNM Soccer Complex this year. Following a 1-1 tie against TCU in the season opener, the Lobos posted home victories against New Mexico State, Boise State, Air Force and Wyoming.

“Playing in front of our crowd is the best,” UNM senior forward Stephanie Rowe said. “We always want to play well for them and give them a good game. There’s just nothing like playing in front of a home crowd.”

Sunday was Senior Day for seven Lobos: goalie Kelli Cornell, midfielder Rachel Montoya, defenders Sinead Fleming and Lauren Irwin and forwards Rowe, Natalie Jenks and Jordan Craig. Three of those seniors contributed to UNM’s two goals.

“We have an amazing group of seniors,” UNM head coach Kit Vela said. “They played well today. They’re very disciplined and limited their mistakes.”

Rowe scored the game winner in the final 68 seconds of the game.

Montoya had a goal and an assist. Both occurred in the second half after Wyoming (7-8-2, 0-5-1 MW) scored in the first 45 minutes.

Rowe’s deciding goal came from the middle of the box, after she received a crossing pass from Montoya. Rowe tallied her fifth goal of the year. UNM’s defense held on for the final minute of play, which included a Wyoming corner kick that sailed wide left.

“I don’t even know what part of my body it hit,” Rowe said about her goal. “I know Rachel played an amazing ball. She always plays those great balls.”

Montoya netted the equalizer at the 69-minute, 51-second mark. She took a pass from Craig on the right side and fired the ball at Wyoming goalie Courtney Merkle. The ball deflected off Merkle’s hand and found the back of the net, tying the match at one goal apiece.

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Craig and junior midfielder Elba Holguin received credit for the assists on Montoya’s goal, her fifth of the season.

“We call her (Montoya) our Lobo warrior for everything she’s been through,” Vela said. “She earned that today.”

UNM finished the game with 23 shots, including seven shots on goal. The Lobo defense limited Wyoming to 10 shots and three shots on goal. In the first half, Wyoming had just two shots.

One of those two Wyoming shots resulted in an unassisted goal by Olivia Mohtadi. She stole the ball in UNM’s defensive end and converted on the breakaway to the net.

“I thought we played really, really well in the first half, minus one mistake that cost us,” Vela said.

Cornell made two saves for UNM, her first coming at the 81:31 mark. Merkle finished with five saves.

UNM entered Sunday’s game after Friday’s 1-0 victory over Air Force. Sophomore midfielder Alexis Leyba scored her first career goal off a Montoya corner kick.

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