Nov. 4, 2011
New Mexico Lobos Women's Soccer - At Mountain West Tournament
Lobos 1, UNLV 0; Wyoming 1, San Diego State 0
Sunday: Noon, New Mexico Lobos vs. Wyoming Cowgirls
Live TV: The Mtn-TV
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Stats, Quotes, Lobo TV
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
"We want it so badly," said Lobo Jael Fanning.
"We are so ready for this," said Lobo Brooke Ellison.
The "it" and the "this" is the Mountain West Conference Tournament and you have no chance to win it, if you don't push into the title game. The Lobos pushed past UNLV 1-0 Friday at the Lobo Soccer Complex to earn the right to play Wyoming for all the MW marbles at noon on Sunday.
"The girls want it so badly," said Lobo coach Kit Vela, whose Lobos have won back-to-back Mountain West regular-season crowns. "Any championship game is going to be big.
"(Wyoming) has never been to the championship, so they are going to have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. But I don't think we'll have any less."
The Lobos got the semifinal win when Jennifer Williams, the MW Offensive Player of The Year, drilled a shot from the right side of the Lobo attack. It wasn't exactly a rocket and it appeared that the UNLV keeper would have no problem with the save.
Rebel Kylie Wassell moved in front of the shot, bent down to make the routine save, and watched the ball bounce over her arms and into the open net.
"People are saying it was an ugly goal," said Vela. "The way (Jen) hit it, it was bouncing. That happens. I wouldn't call it an ugly goal."
No, for the Lobos it was more like a golden goal. It was a beaut.
And any Lobo goal looked like it would be enough to stand up against the Rebs. The Lobo defense was all over the Reb strikers. UNM had 11 shots and three on goal while UNLV took only three shots at the Lobo net with one rolling harmlessly into Kelli Cornell'shands.
"We never allowed them to have any time or space," said Fanning, a UNM senior. "We play defense, all 11 of us. We're excited to move on. Wyoming is a great opponent and we're pumped to play them. I can't wait for it."
The Lobos and Wyoming have met before this season on the Lobo pitch and the Cowgirls appeared to be coasting in for the 1-0 win until the Lobos broke some Cowgirl hearts by punching in the tying goal with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation. Neither team scored in the two overtimes.
"We tied them in Laramie last year and then we tied here," said Ellison. "It's very back and forth when we play them. They don't hold anything back when they play us. They throw everything at us.
"But we're ready. We are so ready for this. I think this year is our year."
Vela's Lobos already have punched out a pretty impressive year. They take an 11-4-4 mark into the championship game. The Lobos might already have carved out an NCAA at-large-bid season, but Sunday's title game brings with it a guarantee.
An automatic NCAA bid goes to Sunday's champion. The Cowgirls, a tall physical team, probably need a win Sunday in order to dance in postseason wars.
The Lobos came out against UNLV a little tentative. Vela and Fanning said there were some nerves accompanying UNM into the MW tourney.
"It's funny in (tournament) games," said Vela. "You don't want to make mistakes. We got the goal and then we did what we had to do to win. We played good defense as a unit.
"We were nervous. They just want it so badly. We took a big breath after winning conference (regular season) and this is the next step. If you want something badly enough, you are going to have nerves."
Said Fanning: "We came out a little frantic. I think nerves hit us a little bit. But once we got composed, we did what we needed to do and got the win."