STEVENS: Young & Old Provide Solid Chemistry for Coach Vela's Lobos
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/15/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 15, 2008

Lobos Soccer
Lobos vs. Utah
When/Where: 7 p.m., UNM Soccer Complex
Promotion: Stuff The Stadium, tickets $2
Saturday: Lobos vs. Brigham Young
When/Where: 12 p.m., UNM Soccer Complex

By Richard Stevens
Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It's not exactly a Lobos team divided into old and young with the veterans defending the goal and the Lobo pups attacking. It just kind of worked out that way and, most importantly, it seems to be working.

"It's not by design," said Lobos coach Kit Vela. "That's just where they happen to be playing. It looks like a team of older kids and younger kids, but I know without either of them, we'd be in trouble. The good thing is nobody cares how it happens or who does it. We just want to win."

The old girls on the University of New Mexico women's soccer team, of course, aren't really old. They are just the veteran seniors that coach Vela is happy to place between the enemy and the UNM net.

Experience is a good thing to place in front of the net.

"We have a lot of experience in the back and that's probably good because one little mistake back there can cost you a goal," said freshman forward Jennifer Williams, one of the Lobo pups on the attack.

The Lobo defense definitely is strong on experience. You have senior Shannon Adragna, a two-time Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of The Week, in the net. You have senior defenders in Krista Peterson and Samantha Bevis and junior Jessica Quador.

From the midfield up to the opposing goal, there is more youth with Williams, two freshmen midfielders, Jael Fanning and Amanda Collins and sophomore midfielders Alexis Ball and Rachel Fields.

The older girls up front are senior midfielder Kaci Paetz and senior forward Hannah Hand. The youngest starter in the back is sophomore defender Megan Bodenheimer

Vela has all kinds of youth coming off the bench, too. In UNM's three MWC games, Vela's substitutes have been five freshmen and two sophomores.

Obviously, a key to UNM's 2008 season was a quick blend of the old Lobos and the new Lobos.

"It was a concern because we had 15 newcomers, five seniors and two juniors," said Vela. "But I knew the freshmen were really good kids and I kept telling the older players that they are going to mold into whatever you lead them to be.

"The freshmen have no attitude, no arrogance about them. They are good, humble kids who are good players. I stressed to everyone that the faster we could put it all together, the better we would be."

Said Williams: "On the field, everyone treats everyone at the same level. We all want the same thing and that's to win."

Wins would be really good for the Lobos Thursday night against Utah and Saturday against Brigham Young.

The Lobos (7-3-4, 2-1-0 MWC) are tied with Utah (6-7-2, 2-1-0) in the league standings and trail first place BYU (10-5-0, 3-0-0). The Utah game is "Stuff The Stadium" night.

"Utah is good," said Vela. "We might have to play a perfect game, but we think we can beat them. It's going to be a heck of a game."

The Lobos aren't conceding the MWC regular title to anyone yet, but the goal for all MWC teams is to reach the league tourney and take a shot at the automatic NCAA berth that goes to the winner. The MWC tourney takes the top six teams out of the eight-team league.

"We are looking at it that we have to win our next four," said Vela, referring to UNM's final four MWC games. "We'll be happy to get to the (MWC) tournament because we know that anything can happen there. We want to go to the NCAA tournament and we need to win the (MWC) tournament to get there because this program, in 14 years, has never been to the NCAA and we don't have the reputation yet (to get an at-large bid)."

Said Williams: "If we win both games this week, we'll be right up there (in the standings). But it will be tough. These teams aren't coming in here to lose and we know we have to come out hard."

Editor's note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner

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Friday, August 21
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at USC vs. Texas Tech
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Sunday, August 23
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Wednesday, August 26
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Thursday, September 03
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