“It doesn’t have to be pretty, but you have to find a way to win on Sundays,” UNM head coach Heather Dyche said.
The Lobos won their second Mountain West Conference game 1-0 against the University of Nevada.
In conference play, teams typically play games on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Last year, the Lobos only won one of their five Sunday conference games. By comparison, the Lobos performed well on Friday nights last year, winning four of six games.
Dyche said she wanted her team to learn from last year’s results — that winning on Fridays meant little if the team could not get a result on Sunday.
“It was never beautiful, flowing soccer...but I thought we didn’t give up anything, and I think if you can do that on Sundays, your odds of winning improve,” Dyche said. “The teams that grind a win out on Sunday are the teams that do really well in conference.”
Against Nevada (1-9, 0-2 MW), the Lobos (7-3, 2-0 MW) held the majority of the possession and generated more opportunities going forward. UNM had 24 shots while the Wolfpack generated seven — but neither team was able to create many clear-cut chances.
The Lobos suffered an early scare in the 15th minute — a Nevada player was brought down just inside of the penalty area, and the penalty kick was awarded.
Wolfpack freshman forward Rachel Gensch stepped up to the spot, but her shot went low and wide of the left post.
The UNM goal came in the 24th minute. Junior defender Jessica Nelson threw the ball in to senior defender Emily Chavez, who floated the ball into the box from about the halfway line. The long, lofted pass from Chavez found the head of sophomore midfielder Jessie Hix, who steered the ball low into the right corner of the goal.
Hix has now scored four goals this season — all with her head. The Albuquerque native leads the team in goals and has become an integral part of the UNM midfield.
“Today was a huge game. We actually talked about it and decided that today was an even bigger win than Friday,” Senior Captain Chavez said. “It’s difficult to play on a Sunday after a Friday game, but it’s also difficult to play against teams with different styles of play.”
The Lobos are now undefeated in their last four games, and sophomore goalkeeper Emily Johnson has now kept four clean sheets this season.
The Lobos will be back in action on Friday against Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. MDT.
Matthieu Cartron is a sports beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers women’s soccer and men’s tennis. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @cartron_matt.