New Mexico may not have needed a wakeup call Friday when it began defense of its Mountain West soccer championship, but Wyoming certainly provided an early one.
After the Cowgirls scored in the third minute at the UNM Soccer Complex, the Lobos turned into predators: ferocious, snarling, goal-scoring beasts.
“We were all a little nervous,” said Molly Myers, who scored twice. “It was our first conference game and we were getting our nerves out. There’s a lot of pressure on our team, coming back as champions. So I think it was just getting our game going. After those first three minutes, it was coming together as team.”
In a 10-plus minute span, the Lobos rocketed home three scores to convincingly grab control of the match on the way to a 4-1 win, UNM’s fifth straight.
“I think the excitement of conference games, it can be impactful for both teams,” UNM coach Heather Dyche said. “I thought Wyoming started the game with a little bit higher intensity, probably a little bit more direct that we anticipated. I think we can expect that every game. I think we have a target on our backs. I think it’s a good lesson to learn. I thought our response was very mature. You never saw our kids heads go down. Nobody wants to give up a goal, but there was no panic.”
By the time the first half was over, the Lobos (6-2-0, 1-0-0) held a comfortable 4-1 lead and the Cowgirls (4-4-1, 0-1-0) never challenged in the second half.
UNM’s Jadyn Edwards displayed the Lobos’ speed and strength, drawing fouls deep in the Cowgirls end. Although neither resulted in a score, it was a harbinger of what was to come,
And in the 13th minute, the Lobos struck quickly with a lightning counterstrike. Myah Isais gathered the ball and passed it back toward Karlee Maes, who launched a pass half the length of the field to find Myers breaking past the Wyoming defense. She won the race into the attacking zone and slotted a shot into the far corner for the equalizer.
“Honestly, I was expecting it,” Myers said. “I know our team looks for those final through balls and it was a beautiful through ball. To be honest I usually don’t go for those ones. I usually let Madi (Hirschman) or Zaria (Katesigwa) go for those. But in that moment, it was just me up there and it was perfect play. It was a perfect ball from my teammate and a finish that needed to happen to tie the game up.”
Just three minutes later, Maysa Walters unleashed a ball on frame from just inside the midfield stripe that Wyoming goalkeeper Alex Daws knocked down. It caromed right to Edwards, whose shot was saved off the line weakly to Katesigwa, who tapped it in for her sixth score of the season.
And in the 24th minute, Myers struck again. After a corner kick landed in the penalty area, her first shot was blocked before she put the rebound away.
To finish the first-half flurry, Edwards volleyed it in after Maes dropped a direct kick inside the penalty area three minutes before the break for her sixth goal.
Within 16 minutes remaining in the game, UNM senior goalkeeper Emily Johnson made the save of the night, robbing a nifty head flick from Savannah Warner that was headed for the upper near post.
NOTE: Wyoming sophomore midfielder Berit Robnett is a Volcano Vista alum. She did not play in the game.