If Sunday’s New Mexico soccer match with Washington were to have a title, perhaps nothing would fit better than “The Old Lady and the Kid.”
Tied at 1-all with time waning, goalkeeper Emily Johnson, a “super” senior in her sixth season at UNM, sent a powerful liner up field from 10 yards beyond the edge of her penalty area.
True freshman Zaria Katesigwa out of Albuquerque High corralled it, took a touch around a Huskies defender, sprinted for the goal and finished just inside the far post. The collaboration of youth and experience gave the Lobos a much-needed 2-1 win over Washington.
“We’re a new team this year and I do think we kind of came into the year, probably myself included, thinking that everything we did last year would just be there again,” said Lobos coach Heather Dyche. “And it hasn’t been consistently. For us to know that we do have those pieces and that we can be elite is huge.”
After a disappointing 3-0 loss to Oregon State last Sunday, New Mexico (2-2-0) was determined to make some changes, she said.
“I don’t think we defended very well last weekend,” Dyche said. “I thought we were way too wide. I thought we got exposed. A lot of times when Oregon State was attacking, they only had to beat one player. So we really worked on defending all week. Because of that, we defended really well.”
For most of the game, however, offense was something of an afterthought for the Lobos, and Washington eventually took advantage. The Huskies (1-4-0) grabbed the lead early in the second half on a booming shot from Katie O’Kane from about 35 yards out that Johnson had no chance to defend.
“Sometimes, you don’t get the transition piece out of it,” Dyche said. “And I think as the game started to open up, and truthfully as we started to find our rhythm and find the spaces, the last 20 minutes were played down here. I thought it was a very mature performance against a team that on paper is a lot better than us.”
As New Mexico hung with its game plan, it created more pressure and eventually the Lobos broke through when Brynn Boeyink lofted a direct kick to the six-yard line that Jadyn Edwards, who grew up in Washington, was able to get a piece of to send it rolling into the far part of the net in the 81st minute.
“It was a great service,” Edwards said. “She curved in a great ball to the top of the box, kind of near the six. It was kind of a big blob in there but I just wanted to get something on it and glad it went in. It was a huge relief because one was coming and we really needed one in the last 10 minutes.”
And just when it seemed like the game was headed for overtime, Johnson changed tactics on Washington.
“It’s kind of funny because we talk about trying to build out of the back,” Dyche said. “But when you can hit a ball like that, it’s unreal how far she can hit it. Sometimes I feel like when we build, we’re taking away our best weapon but I think because we build, we kind of sucked (Washington) in and we were able to catch them with that, so kudos to her for being able to see that. I’m on her all game long about that. For her to get the assist like that is pretty unbelievable.”
Johnson rolled it out of the box, looking downfield.
“They were baiting a little bit, playing short so I kind of took the opportunity to let our line get up and just rolled the ball and see what players were open in the back,” Johnson said. “And Zari was open on that one.”
With the clock sneaking under one minute, Katesigwa denied overtime overtures.
“She was really composed,” Edwards said of Katesigwa. “As a freshman, it’s really hard to be grounded in the moment in these types of games, last minute and for her to be able to just place that was huge for us. We really needed it.”
NOTE: It was cancer awareness day and fans helped raise nearly $3,000 for the New Mexico Childhood Cancer Fund. Former Lobos baseball coach Ray Birmingham helped get the crowd in the giving spirit at halftime.