In the spring when the New Mexico soccer team stepped on the field — especially at home — its energy was palpable.
That spark was admittedly missing Sunday as the Lobos (1-2-0) dropped their home opener 3-0 to Oregon State.
The Beavers were quicker to the ball, faster on the attack and bigger and stronger defensively.
“I don’t think we came out as fired up as we needed to be,” said defender Jaelyn Hendren. “I think that was one thing we were really good at last (season). We were really good at bringing the energy in the beginning of the game. That’s definitely a confidence thing that we can work on. It’s an easy fix.”
The Lobos won’t have whole lot of time to work on that fix as Washington, another quality Pac-12 team visits Albuquerque on Sunday.
“When you play Pac-12 teams, you can expect that they’re all going to be hyper athletic,” New Mexico coach Heather Dyche said. “When you play really good teams, which is what we want to do, and which we are, you have to be confident enough not to sacrifice your style.”
The Lobos bring back nine starters, but started two true freshmen, and several other college newcomers saw significant action as Dyche juggled her lineup in an effort to generate more possession and chances.
“You can see it,” she said. “We’re just not quite … we’re reacting more than anticipating. The only way to learn how to do it is to do it. It’s only a loss if you don’t get better from it tomorrow. And I know we’ll react the right way and keep improving.”
As one of the seniors and veteran leaders, Hendren acknowledged the older players need to help the younger players be prepared for the physical and mental rigors of college soccer.
“My job off the field and on, is just encouraging them,” she said. “Letting them know that they’re not alone. I think there’s a lot for them to learn. It’s hard coming in as a freshman so that’s what us upperclassmen are for; to teach them things we’ve learned from being here for four years and also encouraging them and teaching them the energy that we bring every game and I think they’ve been doing a really good job of adapting to that and learning.”
Although Jadyn Edwards nearly put New Mexico on the board in the 12th minute, forcing Beavers goalkeeper Bridgette Skiba to make a nice save, Oregon State (4-0-0) was able to quickly counter as Helena Brown beat a defender to the end line, turned in and found Amber Jackson inside the goalie’s area for a score.
Aiden Brown then dribbled past two Lobos to set up a booming shot from 22 yards out in the 34th minute.
Minutes later, Lobos sophomore Gaby Montoya nearly connected with Edwards on what would have set up a solid scoring opportunity, but the service went just long. And just before the half, Edwards had one more chance, but it was deflected over the net.
Now the Lobos will study game tape and try to come out stronger against the Huskies.
“I think there is a lot that we can take from it,” Hendren said. “We’ll have to go back and watch some film and dissect every part of the game. I think we came out a little bit unconfident so I think that is something that we can definitely work on going into the U-Dub game.”