Sept. 12, 2008
What: Nike Invitational (women)
Where: UNM Soccer Complex
Friday: Lobos 1, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 1 (2OT); UNLV 1, Fairleigh Dickinson 0
Sunday: Lobos vs. Fairleigh Dickinson, 3 p.m.; UNLV vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 10 a.m.
Tickets: $5 adults, $4 seniors (55+), Youth (18-under)
By Richard Stevens Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.--Her battle with size is nothing new for Lobos Jennifer Williams. At 5-foot-2, the freshman from Moreno Valley, Calif., has never been the biggest or strongest player on a soccer field. But Williams has something the big girls of the turf don't all have = speed.
"I'm not going to lie," said Williams. "I'm a little nervous being a freshman and all and it's kind of scary with everyone being bigger than me." But not everyone is as fast as Williams.
She used that speed at the 2:38 mark of the first half to hand the University of New Mexico Lobos a 1-0 lead in their Friday night battle at the UNM Soccer Complex with the No. 24-ranked Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers. The Panthers scored at the 9:51 mark of the first half and that's the score that stayed on the scoreboard for the rest of regulation play and through two overtimes in the Nike Invitational.
Williams scored on the left side after chasing down a long pass from teammate Kaci Paetz that rolled into space between Williams and Panthers' keeper Erin Kane. It was a foot race and not a matter of size or muscle. Williams won the race and the ball. She bounced a shot over Kane and into the Panthers' open net.
"I just happened to get to it (first)," said Williams. "The only thing I could think of was to pop it over her head and if it didn't make it there, I could have run behind her. It just went in."
Williams could have talked about a few other shots that "just went in," but the freshman missed on some nice scoring opportunities throughout the game. She took nine shots and had three shots-on-goal.
"She wants it so bad," said Lobos coach Kit Vela, who saw her squad go to 2-1-3 on the season. "I don't think she panicked, but she wants it too much. She is getting in (for shots). She is so darn fast and she turns the corner no matter who is marking her."
Said Williams of her misses: "It definitely frustrated me. I need to capitalize." Both teams' goals in the first half had similar looks. The Lobos made a mistake by allowing Panther Sarah Hagen, the nation's leading scorer, to find space near the UNM goal. Hagen broke loose on the left side and received a pass from teammate Kate Megna. Hagen and UNM goalie Shannon Adragna got in a battle over the rolling ball, but Hagen tapped it away. Hagen settled the ball near the end line and sweetly touched a shot into the open UNM net at 9:51. It was Hagen's ninth goal in seven games.
Hagen had another solid opportunity to score on a header in the first half, but UNM clamped down on her opportunities in the second half and into the double overtime. "We didn't give her a lot of time and space and she obviously likes to have time and space," said Vela. "I think we did a good job on her. They are a Top 25 team for a reason. We do a good job of matching teams. I'd like to surpass some of them, but I still think that's kind of our youth."
The Lobos had 15 shots and four shots-on-goal. Wisconsin-Milwaukee had 15 attempts and seven shots-on-goal. The Panthers had seven corner kicks to three for the Lobos. Adragna had six saves and Kane had three for the Panthers. The tie dropped the Panthers to 6-0-1 on the season. The Lobos play Fairleigh Dickinson at 3 p.m. Sunday with UNLV battling Wisconsin-Milwaukee at 10 a.m.
Editor's note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner.