Dec. 14, 2006
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The 2006 New Mexico women's soccer team is coming off one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Lobos finished the campaign with an 8-7-5 overall mark and tied for third in the Mountain West Conference standings. UNM secured its second consecutive winning season after facing one of the toughest schedules in the country. The Lobos played eight games against NCAA Tournament teams and four nationally ranked opponents.
The Lobos opened the year with the first four games on the road. UNM went 3-1 with victories over Canisius College, Oakland and UC-Irvine. After one of the best starts in school history, UNM returned home to face Texas and Purdue, who were both ranked. The Lobos took the Longhorns to overtime before falling 2-1. After a difficult loss to Texas, UNM took on the Boilermakers. The Lobos hung with Purdue throughout the match despite having an off day and dropped a 1-0 decision.
UNM quickly turned things around with a dominating win over UTEP, who was 4-0 at the time, and upsetting Washington State from the Pac-10, 1-0. The victory over WSU was the first for UNM over a Pac-10 opponent since the Pac-10 has become a powerhouse conference. Following the Purdue match, the Lobos rattled off three wins in their next four matches. Everything seemed to be going the Lobos way until the Oct. 1 game against Nevada. UNM dominated the Wolf Pack but could not find the net. That game was the first of a four game skid of one loss and three ties. From Oct. 1-13, the Lobos went 0-1-3 but outshot its opponents, 73-56. During that span, UNM played four consecutive overtime matches.
After a very long road trip to Wyoming and TCU in their opening conference weekend, playing two overtime games before coming home with two hard earned ties, the Lobos were faced with adversity. Hitting the road, again, to an overtime 1-0 loss to UNLV on Friday, Oct. 13, the LobosÃ¢ï¿½TM first home match was on that Sunday against nationally ranked Utah. The first half was well-played by both but the four overtime matches took a toll and the Lobos dropped a 3-0 decision to Utah, with all three goals being scored in the last 23 minutes. UNM was four games into the MWC season and had a 0-2-2 record. With their backs to the wall, the Lobos refused to quit. UNM responded with a 2-0 victory over San Diego State, who was second in the conference at the time. With only two regular-season games remaining, the Lobos need to win at least one to secure a spot in the conference championship. BYU rolled into town with a national ranking and one of the hottest teams in the conference. UNM held strong and matched the Cougars play-for-play and eventually took the match to a 1-1 draw. The Lobos were confident and poised as they finished the year with a 3-0 domination of Air Force.
The 2006 MWC Championship proved to be an exciting three days of soccer. UNM entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed after tying UNLV for third in the league standings. The Lobos faced San Diego State in the opening round and finished regulation in a 1-1 tie. UNM advanced to the semifinals after winning on penalty kicks, 4-3.
In the semifinals, the Lobos faced No. 10 Utah in their home stadium. The Utes were undefeated in conference play and had collected nine consecutive shutouts. Utah found the net within the first two minutes but UNM remained tough. The Lobos were solid from the very beginning, attacking on offense and holding strong defensively. UNM continued to apply pressure on the Utes and eventually tied the game at 1-1 midway through the second half. It had been 939:20 minutes since the Utes had allowed a goal. The Lobos scored the game-winner with 2:30 minutes remaining to take a 2-1 lead but the goal was called back on a questionable call inside the box. Because of the ruling on the field, the match went into overtime where Utah pulled out a 2-1 victory to end the Lobos season.
The 2006 season was a rousing success and was well deserved for the hard work and dedication it took to put New Mexico womenÃ¢ï¿½TMs soccer on the map. The steadly rebuilding process has paid off for Coach Vela and the Lobos. This year, UNM says goodbye to seven seniors that have been through the ups and downs throughout their careers but remained persistant while creating a winning tradition and a program to be proud of. Seniors Alanna Abeyta, Kellee Hafner, Kaela Kelly, Ashley Lowery, Eryn Paetz, Bridgette Sanchez and Kristine Sweat finished their careers as the best class to wear the Cherry and Silver. The class of 2007 has helped New Mexico become a key player and formidable opponents within the Mountain West Conference, a conference ranked seventh in strength in the country.
The effort put forth by the Lobos this season did not go unnoticed as UNM earned five MWC Player of the Week honors and two national awards. Sophomore keeper Shannon Adragna became the first Lobo to be named to the SoccerBuzz.com National Elite Team of the Week on Oct. 25. During that same week, Adragna and Sanchez became the second duo to sweep the conference weekly awards. Junior Katelyn Ley and Abeyta were the first two players in school history to sweep the awards. Sweat was the first Lobo honored by the MWC on Sept. 5, when she was named the Offensive Player of the Week. Junior Terryn Granados was also named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team honors for her outstanding performance in the classroom. She became just the third Lobo to receive the honor.
The Lobos had three players receive All-MWC honors. Lowery was named first team All-MWC after a stellar senior campaign and was placed on the MWC All-Tournament team. Lowery helped orchestrate the defense that only allowed 17 goals this season the second fewest goals allowed all-time by UNM. Sanchez and Adragna both made second team All-MWC. Sanchez was the leading scorer for the Lobos with five goals and 14 points. Adragna started every match in the net for UNM and had a 0.80 goals against average. Her goal against average was the second best single-season mark. Altogether, UNM scored 26 goals, which is the second most since joining the MWC in 1999. The previous mark of 37 goals came in 2002 when the Lobos finished 12-8-1 and placed third in the conference standings. Despite losing seven seniors the Lobos return 20 of its 27 players next season.
UNM turns its focus to the 2007 season as it continues to build towards a MWC Championship. With four seniors next year and a wealth of experience returning, great things are in the future for Coach Vela and the Lobos.