Sept. 28, 2012
Albuquerque, N.M. --- There are a ton of numbers to digest. School record for consecutive home games without a loss. Extending the school record for consecutive conference games without a loss. A milestone coaching win. A fourth straight shutout. But through all of that, there was only one number Kit Vela cared about.
The number "1". As in 1-0-0, UNM's conference record after opening Mountain West play with a solid 1-0 victory over Boise State on Friday night in front of 1,396 fans at the UNM Soccer Complex.
"We are 1-0 in conference, and that's the most important thing," said Vela, and the three points earned at home will go a long way as UNM looks to win a third straight Mountain West title.
It wasn't easy, although UNM had more shots in the first half 9-3, and for the game 17-15, but it was senior forward Stephanie Rowe with the heroics once again. Rowe put UNM on the board with 21:59 left in the game when she knocked home a shot from the six that banked in off the left post. It was set up by fellow senior and forward Natalie Jenks, who sensed indecision on a Boise State clearance, and burst through the box. BSU's clearance attempt went off of Jenks to Rowe, who made one move to get herself open before nailing her fourth goal of the season.
For Rowe, she now has eight career goals, and three in a row, after scoring twice in UNM's last outing, a 2-0 win over UC Davis.
Until that point, UNM had the run of play, save for a golden opportunity in the first half for Boise State that was missed with Lauren Hickok shot a ball from about 10-yards out directly in front of the net towards the far left post, but it curled just outside the frame.
"I thought in the first half we really kept them at bay," said Kit Vela. "But that's how we've been playing. In the second half they felt like they were in the game, because it was still 0-0, and they are a good team."
Boise State upped their shot total to 12 in the second half, with three of those coming in the final 39 seconds, but two were blocked and one was a desperation shot from 45 yards out with the clock winding down. BSU's best chance at a tie was when Katy Oehring's shot from 20-yards out was hard and low to the far corner, but Cornell slid across to make the save.
Most of Cornell's action didn't go down statistically as anything, but on several long free kicks, Cornell commanded her box well. With 17 minutes left she forcefully punched out a long service, and minutes later in traffic she boxed a ball out amidst a host of Broncos.
"Kelli had to dominate her box like that against Florida and Georgia," said Vela. "She controlled things and that's what she brings to this team, that veteran presence back there."
Cornell got her fifth shutout in the last six matches, and her fourth in a row, although her backline of two-time conference Player of the Week Liz Nare, Lauren Irwin, Sinead Fleming, and Brooke Ellison get major kudos as well for that run. The win did have some major milestones attached to it, as UNM has now gone 11 consecutive home games without a loss, a new school record, and 15 straight conference games without a loss. UNM's last conference loss was October 23, 2009 to San Diego State 3-1.
The win was also the 100th for Kit Vela, who is now 100-85-39 in 12 years at UNM, but 44-17-13 in the last four. "One hundred is a nice number, but 1-0 is what I care about right now."
NOTES: Cornell lowered her goals against average to 0.89 ... Rowe joins Rachel Montoya, Jenks, and Jordan Craig as current Lobos with eight career goals, which is the active lead ... Cornell now has 44 career wins and 38 career shutouts ... she moved ahead of Kristen Winters for third place on the all-time minutes list with 6,962, and is now the UNM goalkeeper with the most minutes played ... she will pass Jayme Dieringer for first place during the Fresno State game ... Jenks' assist was her third and it ties her for the team lead with Liz Nare ... freshman Lindsay Guice played seven minutes but had two shots, including a header that nearly resulted in her first career goal ... UNM has now scored in eight consecutive games.