After opening up conference play with a win, New Mexico has stumbled its past three matches and finds itself towards the bottom of the standings early in Mountain West play. Fresno State (10-5, 1-3 MW) needed just three sets to send UNM home and back to the drawing board after a 3-0 sweep on Saturday afternoon. “I just think it’s gut-check time,” head coach Jeff Nelson said in a release. “We were 10-4 and now we’re 10-7.”
Head coach Heather Dyche said she was looking for leadership from UNM’s offense. She got more than one leader in Friday afternoon’s 3-1 victory over San Jose State. Dyche has said she thought her squad was too timid in the final third of the soccer field and said someone had to take control in the Lobo attack.
After a quick start, the Lobos couldn’t finish the job in a 3-2 loss to San Jose State in San Jose, California on Thursday night. It appeared things were going smoothly for New Mexico (10-6, 1-2 MW), who started the first Mountain West road match of the season with 25-21 and 26-24 wins in the first two sets. However, after intermission, the Lobos ran out of steam, and UNM dropped the next three sets.
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.
With two starters on the New Mexico bench, the Lobos will look to steal a couple victories on the team’s trip to California. UNM is coming off a split in its first two conference home games of the year, winning the opener 3-0 against Air Force on Sept. 22, and dropping a 3-2 series to Boise State on Saturday. “Considering where we’re at, it wasn’t a bad weekend,” Nelson said. “We feel like we should’ve gotten both wins, but we’re playing down two starters.”
The opportunity was there, but a sluggish start and a stumble at the finish cost UNM a perfect start to the Mountain West. New Mexico’s start to what would become a 3-2 loss to Boise State on Saturday was not how head coach Jeff Nelson drew it up in the pregame, and it took the Lobos an entire game to get going.
New Mexico’s Mountain West season started off with a bang. Unfortunately for the Lobos, it wasn’t in their favor. It took all but 15 seconds for Colorado College’s freshman Madeline Stesney to find the back of UNM’s net off of a cross from sophomore forward Clara Richter.
The Lobos certainly weren’t in midseason conference form, but the squad didn’t have to be. New Mexico came out in a 3-0 sweep over Air Force on Thursday night, while team captain Julia Warren watched from the bench with a big black brace on her right knee.
If New Mexico has taken anything away from non-conference play, it’s that the Mountain West title is wide open and up for grabs. Everyone begins conference play with the same 0-0 record, but there have been some changes on how the Mountain West is stacking up this year. For starters, powerhouse Colorado State (6-5) has already lost more games than the squad lost all last season when the Rams were 26-4 and 18-0 in MW play.
New Mexico had a long day on Saturday, splitting its final doubleheader of the year while taking both non-conference matches the full five sets. UNM (9-4) couldn’t quite close things out in a 3-2 loss to Samford for the morning contest. After dropping the first set 25-21, the Lobos rebounded to take sets two and three with 25-17 and 25-22 scores, respectively.