After dropping its first two Mountain West openers at home, New Mexico Women’s Soccer is in dire need of a leader.
Head coach Heather Dyche said she hopes to see someone take charge in the attacking third of the field, an area the Lobos desperately need work in.
“We’re looking for someone to take the team on their shoulders in the final third and put balls in the box and be a little more brave,” Dyche said. “I think at times we try to be too pretty and slow down the field instead of just being brave and putting one in the back of the net.”
Dyche later explained at Tuesday’s media luncheon that she would like to see a person who will step up in that particular part of the field. She said a lot of her players have been worried about what they should be doing, as opposed to demanding the ball and knowing what to do with it.
The Lobos’ lone goal of the weekend came from junior midfielder Claire Lynch on a penalty kick. Though Lynch has proven her courage on the attack, New Mexico’s offense has still not been able to find the back of the net.
Lynch shot the ball four times in UNM’s 2-1 loss to Air Force on Sunday afternoon, more than any other player on the field. Following that match, Dyche said sometimes it’s just the way soccer goes, and that for some reason the good looks and ample opportunities are just not quite enough.
“Sometimes it’s a little bit of a cruel game and you have to find your way to grind through it,” Dyche said.
However, one thing Dyche said the team can control is the energy it brings to the pitch. Other than the opening half of MW play in UNM’s 1-0 loss to Colorado College, Dyche said she was pleased with her team’s effort.
“Not the way we wanted the weekend to go, certainly, but I actually thought we had three great halves of soccer,” Dyche said. “We as a staff have to look at why is that happening.”
The Lobos (4-4-2, 0-2-0 MW) hope to turn around the lack of offense quickly on a California road trip this weekend. The Lobos will first take on defending conference champions San Jose State (1-7-1, 0-0-0) on Friday before taking on Fresno on Sunday afternoon.
New Mexico fell to SJSU 2-1 at home in the regular season last year before falling to the Spartans in the conference tournament semi-finals in a shootout. The taste is still a bit bitter for UNM, according to Dyche.
“Last year, we lost to them in the conference semi-finals in a shootout and we lost to them here in kind of a last second goal,” Dyche said. “It’s always a great game and I think we’re up for it again this year.”
Starting off the conference season winless would raise concern for any team, but Dyche said her group is handling things differently as the Lobos gear up for SJSU and Fresno State (5-5-0, 0-0-0 MW) this weekend.
She said her squad is steering away from playing the blame game and are individually looking internally to put an end to an early MW skid.
“This team, they’re owning it. They’re not happy about it, but they’re owning it and I think that’s such a cool thing,” Dyche said. “Regardless of results, if you have accountable, strong, confident young women that’s a pretty cool thing.”
New Mexico and SJSU will begin play at 5 p.m. MT.
Liam Cary-Eaves is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers volleyball, women’s basketball and baseball. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Liam_CE.