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Women’s Soccer: Lobos lose in semifinals shootout, fall in Mountain West tournament

The University of New Mexico Lobos faced the San José State Spartans in the Mountain West Conference semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 2. The score ended in 0-0 after overtime, with the Lobos eventually losing in a shootout 4-2. The Lobos had been the reigning conference champions for the past two seasons.

While losing in a shootout is a disappointing way to end the season, the Lobos did play well in their last game; there were multiple shots where mere inches would have completely changed the outcome of the match.

In NCAA women’s soccer, there are two 10-minute overtime periods, and if the score is still tied at the end of both periods, they head into a shootout. Fans who hate the shootout will look to games like this as evidence to find another solution for overtime soccer.

The Lobos had stellar defensive play for the whole game: they only allowed two shots from San José and both were in the first half. The entire match was almost exclusively played on whichever end the Lobos were trying to score on. UNM put up 30 shots with Jadyn Edwards leading the team with 6; she also played all 110 minutes.

Goalie Alli Davis had one save in regulation but gave up 4 goals in the shootout. She was on a five-game shutout streak. The last time she allowed a goal was Oct. 9 against the Spartans.

At the start of the match, Edwards was fouled, and on her free kick she set up Jaelyn Hendren for a shot. She was off target by just inches at the three-minute mark — a sign for things to come.

UNM almost scored on another free kick, but Spartan goalie Bente Pernot flew into the crowd of jerseys to catch the ball.  The Lobos almost scored on a throw-in 17 minutes into the match, but Edwards shot was too far right of the goal.

UNM got the first corner kick of the game which led to an excellent scoring opportunity, but Hendren, Edwards and Leilani Baker all had their shots blocked in just over a one-minute span following the corner kick.

The first half ended 0-0 with UNM unable to capitalize on their three corner kicks.

In the second half, Lobo Natalie DeGagne got all the way in front of the goal, but her shot was caught by Pernot. The Lobos earned a corner kick just a minute later, but they came up short with an off-target shot. Then, 54 minutes into the game, the Lobos got their fifth corner kick but were unable to get a shot off of it. The Lobos then missed two back-to-back shots.

Despite their offense having yet to score, they still dominated: the defense did not allow the Spartans to get a shot off for the entire half. With just five minutes left in regulation, Pernot was in a collision and had to stop play. After a few minutes, she was able to get back on her feet; she didn’t miss a beat and caught Edwards’ free kick.

The game went into overtime, still 0-0. UNM looked to continue their incredible defense and have a shot go their way. The Lobos had 26 shots in regulation compared to two from the Spartans.

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At the 95-minute mark, Pernot blocked a shot — it hit the goalpost of the net, but the ball did not bounce in the Lobos favor. The Spartans were able to play keep away long enough from the Lobos to go into the second overtime.

For the second overtime, the Spartans knew they had little chance to score on the Lobo defense, so they held onto the ball every chance they got. Pernot held on to the ball for every possible second. Their stall tactic also involved slowly going to get the ball when it landed out of bounds. They did not attempt to advance to UNM’s goal and opted to try to keep the ball at midfield at all costs.

106 minutes into the match, the Lobos were able to steal the ball, but DeGagne and Edwards had back-to-back blocked shots. At the end of the period, the score was still 0-0 and the match was headed towards a shootout.

Molly Myers took the Lobos’ first shot, but Pernot was there to catch the ball. For the Spartans kick, Sabrina Weinman had a shot that went past Davis to score. Karlee Maes tied it up for the Lobos 1-1 on a shot toward the bottom right of the goal. Pernot scored on Davis and put the Spartans ahead. Hendren answered right back, though, to tie it 2-2.

Kiana Miyazato scored on Davis by hitting the ball near the top of the net. Edwards missed her shot, which put the Lobos down 3-2. Bella Flocchini then hit the game-winning goal. They advance to the Mountain West championship game on Sat. 5 in Albuquerque.

After the match, head coach Heather Dyche was very disappointed with the outcome of the match, but she plans to take the loss and use it to fuel next season.

“I literally don’t think they could have tried any harder, don’t think they could have played any harder. 30 shots to 2 — it’s gut wrenching … We’ve been on the other end of this so many times that you have to take it all in stride: you’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some … It’s gotta be something that ignites a little bit of fire in some of the returners and something the seniors will be proud of, and I hope they look back and are proud of how they played,” Dyche said.

She also commented on her senior players and the impact they’ve had on the program.

“There is not really much you can say about those guys that hasn’t already been said. We are here because of them,” said Dyche.

Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @thomasbulger10

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