In a conference where teams are beating each other up in the standings, every win becomes valuable and every loss can hurt.
That’s the way the Mountain West Conference has been shaking out this women’s soccer season so far. There are no more unbeaten teams as Colorado College fell to Fresno State on Thursday. Eight of the 12 teams have at least two wins after the first two and a half weeks.
The parity in the conference makes this weekend’s road trip to Colorado State and Wyoming an important one for New Mexico, head coach Heather Dyche said. The Lobos will be in Laramie, Wyoming on Friday to take on the Cowgirls with a match in Fort Collins, Colorado against the Rams on Sunday.
“The Mountain West is kind of a crazy conference right now where everyone is beating everyone up and we have to take care of every game,” Dyche said. “So this becomes a pretty big weekend for us to play Colorado State and Wyoming.”
Dyche called both Wyoming and CSU up-and-coming teams.
Wyoming (6-3-3 overall) sits in seventh as one of the 2-2 teams behind Air Force and Fresno State because those two teams have a 2-2-1 mark through five games. The Lobos will be the Cowgirls’ fifth foe in conference play.
Colorado State (3-8-2 overall) remains one of two winless teams in the Mountain West. The Rams, along with Nevada, are both 0-3-1 overall.
New Mexico, meanwhile, enter this weekend after a somewhat down pair of games. Though UNM opened 3-0 in the conference with a win over Nevada, it fell to previously winless UNLV last Sunday.
Neither game – the win nor the loss –showed the Lobos at their best, Dyche said. The Lobos started both outings off well but then lost their cohesion after they settled into the game, she said.
“I thought our defensive transition was a little bit too slow and I thought we were really willing to give a ball away. Our possession just wasn't very good,” she said. “Those are things that we worked really hard to fix (Tuesday) and the good thing is the players know we didn't play great and they're ready to go.”
In order to get back on track, UNM will need to crack Wyoming’s stout defense. Wyoming’s goalkeeper Georgia Rowntree has a Mountain West-low .71 goals-against average, and the Cowgirls as a team have given up 10 goals this season, the second fewest in the league. They are tied with San Diego State in shutouts with six.
Wyoming also has the one of the league’s top goal scorers in Shaina Ashouri. She’s tied with SDSU’s Leah Pruitt with seven goals.
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“They're good. They're just big and strong and organized physical, and they just play with a lot of heart,” Dyche said. “They're not easy to break down by any means, and I think they're even better at home.”
UNM has seen Wyoming more than any other opponent; Friday will be their 26th meeting. The Lobos are 14-6-5 all-time against the Cowgirls. However, UNM and Colorado State have only played each other twice before. The Lobos won both those games against the Rams.
J.R. Oppenheim is the managing editor for the Daily Lobo. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JROppenheim.