Stevens: Lobos 3-0 Win over Utah sets up Gigantic Clash With BYU
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/14/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 14, 2010

Box Score

Lobo Women's Soccer
Lobos 3, Utah 0
Saturday: No. 8 BYU at No. 25 Lobos, 5 p.m., Lobo Soccer Complex
GoLobos.com: GameTracker, LoboTV, Stats, Recap

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It is a clash of heavyweights that has all the markings of a classic: Top 25 talent, a bring-it-on attitude, recent history, old tradition, NCAA implications. There might even be a Mountain West Conference title on the line here.

So, do we dare say the No. 8 ranked Brigham Young Cougars' trip of the UNM Soccer Complex is the biggest game in the history of Lobo women's soccer?

Heck, yes. Lobo coach Kit Vela wasn't about to ho-hum the importance of Saturday's game which was set up by her No. 25 Lobos' 3-0 pounding of Utah Utes Thursday on the UNM pitch.

"It's ranked vs. ranked. We are both 3-0. Sure, it probably is (the biggest Lobo game ever)," said Vela, who added UNM had never before cracked a Top 25 poll. "What a great opportunity. What a great challenge.

"It's also our final home game this season and it's Senior Night. I hope a lot of people come out and support us. We are two very competent soccer teams with a lot of energy, a lot of athleticism, a lot of attitude. Let's go at it. We have nothing to lose."

That's the good thing about playing the Cougars. You beat BYU and you have the inside track to the MWC regular-season title and move closer to an NCAA at-large bid. You lose to the No. 8 team and that doesn't hurt your status. The Cougars are good and roll into Albuquerque off a 1-0 Thursday night win at TCU.

"We have been looking forward to this game all season," said UNM's Natalie Jenks, who was joined on the UNM scoreboard by Amanda Collins and Jennifer Williams.

Said Williams, who notched her eighth goal and fifth assist of the season: "We are hyped up for Saturday. It's going to be a really strong battle. I would say it has to be one of the biggest games ever for us."

BYU's visit would have been huge even if UNM had stumbled to Utah, but the Lobos turned huge into gargantuan with the shutout over Utah. The Lobos powered out of a 0-0 halftime tie, and into a convincing win over the Utah team destined for Pac-10 fields in 2011.

"We came out a little slow. We turned that around in the second half," said Jenks.

UNM got the game-winner from Collins at the 63:57 mark of the second half when she tracked a corner kick and pounded a rebound high into the center portion of the Utah net. "I have been dying to score off a corner kick. It was great," said Collins.

Collins' winner was followed by goals from Jenks and Williams less than two minutes apart.

Jenks raced down the middle at 76:37 to put the finishing touch on a ball Williams had pounded toward the Utah net. "Jen got an amazing ball down the side, took it down the line, and knocked it back to me and I touched it in," said Jenks. "It was a perfect pass."

Williams' goal at 78:01 was a beauty - part razzle dazzle, part instinct, lots of skill. She brought down a long pass, quickly flipped the ball over her head, turned and one-touched it past Utah keeper Hannah Turpen. It was Williams' eighth goal of the season.

"I just went with the moment," said Williams. "The ball came to me and I knew I wasn't going to get around the defender with my left foot. I flicked it the best I could and it came right down in front of me and I just hit it low and hard and it went in."

Sounds easy. It wasn't. It wasn't an easy first half for the Lobos either. The Utes showed good spacing and good passing most of the night. But they lacked UNM's quickness and explosiveness. When Utah finally added some aggression to their precision, it was too late. UNM had exploded past them.

"I don't think we wasted too many chances (in the second half)," said Vela.

The Lobos and the Utes both got off 13 shots with UNM putting 10 on net to five on-goal shots for Utah. UNM had four corner kicks and the Utes had none. UNM keeper Kelli Cornell had five saves in pitching another shutout. The win pushes UNM to 9-1-3 on the season. Utah falls to 3-12-1 and 1-1-1 in MWC play. BYU comes at UNM with a 12-1-1 overall mark.

The Lobos played in front of a crowd of 2,058 on Thursday. That number should grow significantly for Saturday's game against the Cougars. After all, it's the biggest game in the history of Lobo soccer.

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7:00 PM - 
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vs. Fort Lewis (exhibition)
Friday, August 21
5:00 PM - 
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at USC vs. Texas Tech
7:30 PM - 
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vs. Florida State
Sunday, August 23
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at USC vs. Florida State
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vs. Texas Tech
Wednesday, August 26
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at New Mexico State