Lobos' 10th Season Comes To An End In MWC Championship Game
Provo, Utah -- Brigham Young University senior midfielder Jeni Viernes scored four goals to lead the red-hot Cougars to a 5-1 victory over the University of New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference women's soccer championship game today at BYU's South Field. The young Lobos, who were making just their second all-time appearance in a conference championship game, tied the game at one midway through the first half, but were unable to stop the Cougars from capturing their fourth-straight Mountain West title.
Both squads, although fatigued from games played in the days leading up to the championship match, were quick to display their enthusiasm and competitiveness. From the start, the Lobos and Cougars challenged each other hard for every air ball and tackle.
At the 16:19 mark the game fell into the hands of BYU's Viernes. The senior closed in on goalkeeper Kristen Winters (Lakewood, Colo) just outside the 18-yard box where Winters was attempting to play the ball with her feet. The Cougar midfielder managed to swipe the ball away from the Lobo keeper and get a shot off to make it 1-0.
Ten minutes later, in the 25th minute, sophomore LeAnne Hendren (Belen, N.M.) took a pass from fellow classmate Laura Hafner (Katy, Texas) and redirected it into the top corner of the goal frame. The ball bounced down off the frame and landed across the goal line. Cougar keeper Mandy Gott frantically pushed the ball out of the net, but her efforts were in vain. The score was Hendren's second of the season and the much-needed Lobo equalizer.
BYU would score twice more before the half was over, beginning in the 33rd minute when midfielder Aleisha Cramer-Rose crossed a high, looping ball into the box where Viernes was waiting on the far post to head it in.
Exactly ten minutes later the same duo of Cramer-Rose and Viernes would strike again, this time in the form of a breakaway. Cramer-Rose placed a pass through the UNM defense that created a one-on-one situation with Winters. Viernes ran onto the pass, touched it to Winters' left, past the diving keepers hands, and sent the ball calmly into the back of the net to leave the score at 3-1 at the conclusion of the first 45 minutes of play.
In the second half, the Lobos came out with a new sense of fight and aggression. The team remained composed and organized on defense and were able to shut down a potent Cougar offense by stifling the root of its power in the midfield. In the 59th minute, an excellent Lobo sequence resulted in a shot from Michelle Longmire that sailed barely wide of the post. The chance boosted the Lobos and heightened the intensity of the game.
The Cougars felt the pressure and continued to press the Lobos offensively. Viernes stepped up for BYU once again and recorded her fourth goal of the game at the 79:08 mark after she received a cross from substitute midfielder Jamie Rendich that she pushed past Winters.
The remainder of the game saw a UNM team that refused to let up. The players' tired, sore and bruised bodies continued to fight against the Cougars, despite having being down by three goals.
With three minutes left in the game, Lydia Ojuka added an insurance goal for BYU after teammate Davia King's shot got through the hands of Winters. Ojuka came in on the far post and followed through on King's shot to finalize the score at 5-1.
The Lobos were awarded three MWC All-Tournament team honors for the excellent individual and team efforts throughout the tournament. Senior Michelle Longmire (Los Alamos, N.M.) and junior Marte Dolva (Geilo, Norway) received recognition, while sophomore Winters was named MWC All-Tournament Goalkeeper.
New Mexico finished its 10th season with a record of 12-8-1, the second-highest win total in program history and secured a second place spot in the post season MWC ranks.