Oct. 29, 2010
By Chelsea Einerwold, Writer/GoLobos.com
The University of New Mexico women's soccer team already has a share of the Mountain West Conference title and the top seed for the conference tournament, but the No. 23 Lobos want to claim the whole thing for themselves.
They will look to do just that as they travel to Fort Worth, Texas on Saturday to take on Texas Christian University in their final match of the regular season. The Lobos must defeat or tie the Horned Frogs in order to sit alone on the 2010 MWC throne. If New Mexico loses to TCU, it could still claim the entire title if Brigham Young loses or ties with Utah. The Lobos and Horned Frogs begin play at 6 p.m., (MT) on Saturday and the game will be aired tape delay on The Mtn. at 8 p.m. the same night.
Back in August, New Mexico was picked to finish fifth in the MWC by conference head coaches. Now, near the end of October and on the brink of postseason play, the Lobos have shattered that prediction.
"This is an amazing group with lots and lots of character and we're playing great soccer," Lobo assistant coach Jorge Vela said. "The nice thing is that we know we're good, you guys have seen us play and know we're good, and the country knows we're good."
The Lobos (11-1-4) are ranked 23rd in this week's Soccer America magazine poll and 24th in the Soccer Times poll. New Mexico is coming off a double-overtime 1-0 win at Air Force on Oct. 22, and a 1-1 double-overtime tie at Wyoming on Oct. 24.
While the Lobos have already earned a share of the MWC title regardless of Saturday's outcome, the team is entering the match with just as much urgency as any other game.
"Every game this year has been a big game for us," Vela said. "TCU is a tremendous team. They've been a little up and down, which makes it even more dangerous. For our team, Saturday is what is important to us, and then after that we will worry about the rest."
This is the 11th time New Mexico and TCU have competed. The Lobos lead the series at 6-3-1.
TCU is led by Jordan Calhoun. The junior has six goals and three assists on the season. In the net for the Horned Frogs is Kelsey Walters. The senior keeper has 64 saves this season. As a team, TCU leads the conference in shots per game, averaging 18.89 a contest. The Frogs also lead in goals per game, with two.
However, the Horned Frogs may meet their match on Saturday when the Lobos come to town. New Mexico is first in the conference for goals allowed this season, having allowed opponents to find the back of the net only five times in 16 games.
Lobo keeper Kelli Cornell leads the MWC in most shutouts with 10 this season. In 16 games, the sophomore also owns a .30 goals-against average, the lowest in the conference.
Offensively, the Lobos look just as good. Junior Jennifer Williams is first in the conference with shots per game at 4.50 per match. She is also second in the MWC for goals scored at eight. Midfielder Rachel Fields is tied for fourth in the conference for goals scored with six this season.
"It's a very simple, but proud team," Vela said. "The best way to describe it, as the Air Force coach said to us, is that we're a true blue collar team with skill.
"Winning the championship means a lot to the girls. The conference is in the top ten in the country, so to be able to say we are the Mountain West Conference champions in 2010 is a very big deal for us."