Oct. 30, 2009
Soccer goals are not easy to come by. Hat tricks -- three goals in a game -- are almost impossible to net. Lobo Jennifer Williams turned in the second hat trick of her career Friday night at UNLV in a 4-0 UNM romp. GoLobos.com thought a few fans might like to take a closer look at Williams by revisiting a feature on the Lobo speedster that ran last season.
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
If you have ever seen Jennifer Williams jet from third gear to fourth gear into overdrive, it almost looks like a special effects trick from a Spielberg movie.
It looks like someone kicked the action into double speed or fast forward, except for one thing: only Williams' legs are churning at that impossible rate of speed. Everyone else's legs are in normal time.
Williams' wheels become almost a blur. You wonder if this Lobo is about to go airborne. You are almost tempted to call the local Federal Aviation Administration office and tell them a small aircraft is about to take off from the UNM Soccer Complex.
One thing for certain, though: Williams is not a UFO. She has been identified as one of the stealth bombers of the Mountain West Conference. She is a MWC gun to reckon with and her dynamic speed and touch with the ball have made her a targeted enemy of all teams that face the Lobos.
Now, try and catch her, try and stop her. That's not an easy task and Williams' acceleration is one reason. In 2009, she tied the University of New Mexico's record for game-winning goals in a season. The only question now is how high will she set the bar for any future Lobos eyeing that mark.
But there is much more to Williams than merely a "go" button. As a freshman, Williams scored four goals and a single assist and also had that blazing speed. Now, Williams is a savvy veteran of collegiate soccer and attacks at a different level. She is a lethal combination of speed, skill and knowledge.
"A year of Division I experience can do wonders," said Lobo coach Kit Vela. "That year of experience gives you confidence and it teaches you how to understand and react to the flows of the game."
One of the ways Williams has improved as a scorer is by slightly changing her mentality -- and reading those flows. She is better at knowing when to attack and when to pass. She also is more willing to pull the trigger.
"I don't just take the ball and run," said Williams. "There is always some thinking behind it, but I do like to change my speeds on defenders. They don't seem to like that."
Yeah, especially that speed that pulls Williams away from the pack. But, again, Williams' success around the net isn't simply speed. She's really not Superwoman or The Flash. But there is a bit of The Hulk in Williams. She gets aggressive, especially when she is angry.
"I don't like it when people underestimate me," said Williams. "I've learned to be more aggressive and stronger. Sometimes I go at them pretty hard. I have two yellow cards (penalties) this season and that`s as many as I`ve had in all the years before."
Williams also has learned to go at the net with more of an aggressive nature. That goal-making mentality was aided by a freshman season of bumps and grinds at the D-I level. It also was helped by that change in her mind-set. Let's face it: Vela puts Williams out there to get the ball into the net.
"Coach has been telling me to go at the goal more and I'm finally listening," said Williams. "Last year, I wasn't always looking to attack and I might be looking more for a cross (pass). Now, I try to funnel toward the goal."
Williams grew up in Moreno Valley, Calif., but she only grew to a shade below 5-foot-2. That might have helped the Lobos lure this California talent to New Mexico.
Williams said she was eyeing some California schools, because that's often where California talent likes to hang. But she wasn't all that thrilled with the attitude she ran into on the West Coast and loved the family feel that Vela nurtures at UNM.
"The soccer in California is awesome, but there sometimes is an attitude of, `We're good. We're this. We're that. We're the best,'" said Williams. "I didn't like those vibes and when I visited UNM there was such a strong feeling of family and shared goals.
"No one was acting like they were special and all the girls liked each other and wanted to be here so much. It made all the other places feel wrong for me."
No doubt, Williams looks right in a Lobo uniform. Although sometimes she doesn't look exactly right. She looks like a blur - a blazing blur of confidence and double-time legs roaring at the net.