Alyssa Coonrod: an attacking midfielder who has been playing at a left back defensive position.
Jennifer Muñoz: listed at midfielder/forward seeing time at the center back spot.
Quincy Slora: a forward who has been at about every position possible.
Several players on the New Mexico women’s soccer team are getting action outside their natural positions. In some cases those players are thriving in their new roles, head coach Heather Dyche said.
“I still can’t tell you our starting lineup, which is, I think, a fantastic thing because we have pieces,” Dyche said.
This past weekend, the Lobos played all 22 players who traveled to Wyoming and Colorado State. Slora, for example, had been shifting in and out of the starting lineup. Against the Rams, she scored the go-ahead goal off a free kick.
A field player, defender Victoria Archuleta, also got her first college start versus CSU as a goalkeeper. She had never played in net before, Dyche said, but filled in for regular starter Cassie Ulrich, who injured a finger against Wyoming. Archuleta made two saves in 33 minutes before Ulrich entered in relief.
Midfielder/defender Maddie Irwin got a taste of that in practice Wednesday morning when Dyche moved her to an outside wing spot on the field.
“It can be tough,” Irwin said. “I mean, the game is soccer, so it’s all the same, but in terms of what runs you’re supposed to make it’s a little bit different. But everyone should know how to play every position.”
It’s good for players to get time at other places on the field to see how they can best be utilized, Irwin said. In fact, a player may find they are better in the new role than they realized.
The shifts also show the team’s versatility and willingness to adjust to what works best, she said.
“Everyone is really open about it and willing to try new things and do whatever they need to do to help us win,” Irwin said. “Nobody’s selfish.”
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It’s not uncommon for teams to adjust positions based on matchups, as the U.S. national team showed in this past summer’s Women’s World Cup. The Americans had a different lineup in all but one game, Dyche said.
“It was based on the opponent and based on the style of play you’re playing,” Dyche said. “I think when you have a team you can adjust, it gives you different looks. I’m pleased with where we are that way.”
Whatever’s been working for the Lobos (6-6-1, 4-1-1) has put them in third place in the Mountain West standings behind co-leaders San Jose State and San Diego State. The Lobos will fight for a share of the conference lead this Friday when they host the Spartans.
Those last four points could prove vital for the Lobos, as every other team has two losses. They are only two points behind the Spartans and Aztecs.
“I think we’ve done well so far,” Irwin said. “We can’t get complacent, though. We can’t just sit back and say, ‘oh, we’re fine.’ We have to keep fighting and keep going. But I think it’s looking pretty good.”
J.R. Oppenheim is the managing editor for the Daily Lobo. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JROppenheim.