The University of New Mexico women’s soccer team defeated the University of Wyoming Cowgirls 4-1 in a high-octane scoring rout on Sept. 24 at University Stadium. The win comes against the Lobos’ first conference opponent of the season and puts UNM 6-2 overall.
The match started with a Wyoming goal only 2:20 in that was so unexpected it felt like an accident; the Wyoming bench went wild when defender Savannah Warner sailed the ball into the bottom right of the goal off an assist from midfielder Jamie Tatum.
UNM’s normally clamorous crowd quieted even as the Lobos came close to tying the score on three different shots. The score was finally tied 1-1 by UNM forward Molly Myers at 12:58, assisted by defenders Myah Isais and Karlee Maes. After the two Lobos defenders brilliantly placed a long kick forward on the field, it was up to Myers to outrace two Wyoming players to the ball, which she did, leaving only the Wyoming keeper Alex Daws for her to evade.
Wyoming attempted to push the ball up to the goal, but Lobos keeper Emily Johnson stopped the advance with an amazing flying grab 45 degrees from parallel. The play couldn’t be recorded as a save since it wasn’t off a shot on goal, but it was a highlight play for Johnson nonetheless. UNM had sustained Wyoming’s early and best shot and kept their composure, and at 15:47 they took the lead 2-1 when forward Zaria Katesigwa scored off an assist from forward Jadyn Edwards.
Wyoming came close to scoring with two shots at 19:26 and 19:35, but the first was blocked and the second off target. UNM came back and increased their lead with another Myers goal at 23:31, this time assisted by Katesigwa. The same sequence would repeat again before the end of the first period, with Wyoming getting multiple shots, none successful, before another UNM goal at 41:58 from Edwards, assisted by Maes. The period ended with the Lobos up 4-1.
The Lobos wisely took a more defensive approach in the second period, rarely moving their defense far up the field. They attempted only two shots in the second period in contrast to their eleven previous attempts, and no corner kicks rather than the five they had in the first. Johnson was marvelous again, recording four saves in the period and not allowing a single goal. UNM didn’t overextend their position to try and score, instead relying on their defense and their 4-1 lead, both of which held resilient until the end of the match.
UNM had a fantastic all-around night on the pitch. They assisted on all four of their goals, and even before Friday’s game, they were tied for 47th in the nation in assists per game. UNM head coach Heather Dyche said that the early Wyoming goal was probably the result of the excitement that surrounds the first conference game of the season, but also said that her team’s mature response was the main positive she was taking away from the match.
Myers matched her season high in goals with two total. She said the Wyoming goal probably did more to animate UNM.
“It’s a motivational goal for us,” Myers said. “After they scored we didn’t put our heads down. We used it as ‘we need to pick it up now’ and I’m glad our team doesn’t get down like that.”
With this win, UNM is now 1-0 in conference play. This is the first step toward having the type of successful conference season Dyche wants them to.
“For us it’s avoiding the pitfalls of a very long conference and not letting games slip away, making sure that we qualify for the conference tournament and hopefully get a bye,” Dyche said. “To do that, it’s pretty significant; it’s not easy to do when you play all 12 teams (in the conference).”
Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @baggyeyedguy