New Mexico Lobo Women's Soccer --- Lobo Soccer Complex
Friday: Texas Tech 1, New Mexico 0
Sunday: New Mexico at New Mexico State, 1 p.m.
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
In the baptismal of fire that Lobo Coach Kit Vela knows will burn her young Lobos a few times this season, rookie keeper Cassie Ulrich surely felt some heat Friday night in New Mexico's 1-0 loss to Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders launched 18 shots in Ulrich's direction with nine of them being on goal and one spectacular shot by Red Raider Jessica Disabella ripping into an upper corner of the UNM net.
There wasn't much Ulrich could have done to stop that bomb other than being 6-foot-10.
"And I'm not. I'm five-five," said the Ulrich after her first start as a Lobo which gave her seven saves -- the most by a Lobo keeper in a season opener in ten years.
Disabella's shot was a beauty. She pushed the ball to her right which forced the UNM defense -- and Ulrich -- in that direction. The Raider then cut back, reversed her angle, and sent a left-footed rocket screaming over the UNM defense and deep into the far, upper corner. The second-half goal came at 87:26.
"We lost the ball," said Ulrich. "They kind of countered fast and came at us. We got maybe a little unorganized, but in the end it was an excellent finish."
The win snapped UNM's 13-game unbeaten streak at Lobo Field. UNM falls to 0-1 and Texas Tech headed back to Lubbock with a 1-0 mark.
"For an opener with as many young players as we were playing, I thought we did well against a very experienced team," said Coach Vela. "I think we did a lot of good things."
Youth obviously was a factor in the game. The Lobos played hard and fast, but not quite at the same aggressive level as the older Raiders. Tech had the 18 shots to four for UNM. Tech had 11 corner kicks to one for the Lobos.
The young Lobo probably learned a lesson about how to come out in the second half, too. The first half was pretty much a wash in time of possession and field position. The Red Raiders stepped up their aggression level in the second half. They had 11 shots to two for the Lobos in the second half. Tech had six second-half corner kicks to none for the home team.
"Youth questions itself," said Vela.
The Lobo shots came off the toes of Brooke Webster, Tera Trujillo, Brooke Ellison and Alyssa Coonrod. Ellison is the only upperclassmen in that group and plays out of the midfield or defensive backfield.
"We are still trying to feel that a little bit," Vela said of her team's offensive rhythm. "I think we did some good things, but our last pass sometimes wasn't quite what we were expecting - misreading each other.
"But, again, every attacking player is either a sophomore or freshman. It's going to take a little bit of time, but we knew that, that's why we scheduled the way we did."
The Lobos played in front of a crowd of 1,061 on a warm New Mexico night. Ulrich wasn't happy with the final result on the scoreboard, but the product of Rio Rancho High was thrilled to take the field as a Lobo.
"It's great coming from this area and being able to play and make an impact on the team," she said. "It was a great atmosphere. We had so many fans out here tonight.
"I was so ready for it (starting). I've been playing behind Kelli Cornell for two years now. When I stepped onto that field I was ready to go, ready to give this team my all. Once we started warming up, once we were walking out -- no nerves.
"I could have had some better distribution at times but I was confident going in and my communication was good. We have so much youth and so much energy. We are expecting great things this season."
Notes: The seven saves by Cassie Ulrich were the most by a Lobo keeper in a season opener since 2003, when Kristin Winters had nine in a 2-1 loss to Oklahoma ... UNM held Texas Tech scoreless in the opening half, and dating back to September 18, 2011, UNM has allowed just five first half goal. That is over a span of 33 games ... UNM started four players with zero collegiate experience in redshirt sophomoreCassie Ulrich, redshirt freshman Tera Trujillo, and true freshmen Brooke Webster and Ruth Bruciaga. Overall, the Lobos played eight players with five or fewer career games under their belts.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com.