Albuquerque, N.M. --- The New Mexico Lobos were certainly efficient. UNM scored three goals on three shots on net, all off of set pieces, all by different defenders as the Lobos cruised to a 3-0 victory over the Rice Owls in front of 2,285 fans at the UNM Soccer Complex.
Coming off a pair of hard-luck one-goal losses to the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels and the No. 12 Duke Blue Devils, the Lobos looked ready to take the field on their home turf, and from the opening kick, the Lobos controlled the action. The Lobos were very deliberate in their pace as they controlled the possession for most of the match.
The Lobos got on the board first at the 26:58 mark off the teams’ fourth corner of the first half. Dylann O’Connor, who entered the game with the only two goals for UNM, sent in a line drive that found Brianna Webster at the edge of the 6-yard box. She heads it home past a helpless Amy Czyz for a 1-0 lead.
Said Webster of her first goal of the season, “Dylann had a great corner. We practiced them the day before and I was unmarked.”
The Lobos remained in the lead when Lauren Hughes of Rice took a deceptive shot from the six off a bad angle that UNM keeper Cassie Ulrich had to dive to stop. Ulrich allowed no rebound with Hughes lurking nearby. That was the only real test for Ulrich and the defense, as UNM was outshot 8-7 overall, and 4-3 on net, although UNM’s defense kept Rice to only the one real threatening moment.
In the second half, the Lobos got the insurance goal they needed from unlikely source and an unlikely spot. After foul inside the center circle, Savannah Viola looked to send a ball into the box, but her kick from 52 yards out sailed over everyone, including Czyz the keeper, and just under the crossbar for a 2-0 lead and her first career goal.
UNM then capped off the scoring with just under three minutes to go when Alyssa Coonrod sent a free kick from the right side of the field into the box where it found the head of Tera Trujillo for her first career goal, and Coonrod’s first career assist.
That capped off a night where UNM’s defense pitched a clean sheet and scored all three goals.
“Awesome crowd, and this is why we love playing at home. We had quite a few kids…there is nowhere like Albuquerque. It’s an incredible place to play,” said Vela. She was also pretty pleased with the performance by her players as well as the crowd.
“It was a good 90 minutes, and I think possession-wise we maintained most of the possession of the game.”
As for Sunday’s battle with Michigan State, “They tied San Diego State last weekend and they are a very good side. We have to bring our very best game again and continue from where we left off today.” The Spartans are coming off a 1-1 road tie against Oakland, and are undefeated at 3-0-2 on the season. Kickoff is at noon.
NOTES: The Lobos hosted a kids clinic prior to the game … the three goals were the most for UNM since scoring seven in a 7-1 rout of TCU on October 28, 2011, as UNM scored six in its five home games last year … Ulrich had four saves in her second career shutout … Webster’s goal was the sixth of her career, and among active players, it’s twice as many as the next player, Dylann O’Connor, who has three career goals … Shelbie Luna, who was the only player on either team to play in the first ever matchup of the two programs in 2009, played 11 minutes in the second meeting tonight … there were only 12 fouls called in the entire match, six on each team … Of UNM’s three goals and two assists, all except for the by Webster were recorded by underclassmen.