Claire Lynch scooted easily among her taller UNM women’s soccer teammates, running through drills under the mindful guard of coach Heather Dyche.
It was a gem of an October morning and the workout at hand had Lynch’s attention. The Lobos were preparing for tonight’s meeting with Utah State, the team that tops the Mountain West Conference standings at the moment.
For the 5-foot Lynch, UNM’s leading scorer, the day would get more complicated. There were biology and family studies classes to attend. Homework had to be done. There was the whole theory of evolution to consider. She is a pre-med student, with a 4.0 grade-point average she intends to maintain.
And this is an easy week. That’s because the Lobos won’t be packing bags. Tonight’s match will be only the fourth home affair for UNM (6-6-2, 2-4-0 MWC) this season.
“It’s definitely not easy to keep up with studies, especially this season with a ton of travel,” Lynch said. “But you gotta get it done. … You get a schedule, get a feel for balancing school and soccer. And I think I do a pretty good job of managing my time, making sure I get sleep so I can play soccer and so I can get my homework done.”
Play, study, sleep.
“Claire trains like a professional,” Dyche said. “There’s not really high highs with Claire, and there’s not low lows. She just shows up and does her job. She scraps and she fights.”
Lynch, a junior midfielder from Volcano Vista, has seven goals in 14 games and ranks fifth on UNM’s career list with 16 goals.
“She’s the kind of kid that, if in a game things aren’t going well, she’s going to find you a goal,” Dyche said. “And when things are going well, she’s probably leading the charge.”
Lynch said she wants to make an impact.
“When things are bad, I want to rally the team and say, ‘ Hey, guys, it’s OK. Let’s get going. Let’s play our soccer.’ And when things are good, it’s fun. You just want to have fun.”
The fun tonight comes in the challenge of facing Utah State (9-5-0, 5-1-0). On Sunday, Boise State (5-8-2, 4-1-1) visits UNM.
“It’s a huge weekend for us,” Dyche said. “You look at the points (in the MWC standings) and nobody has really run away with it. And nobody has fallen out of it. So if we get a couple of results this weekend, it would keep us in the hunt.”
Lynch, who is one of four Volcano Vista grads on UNM’s roster, chose to be a Lobo in part for nights such as these – to be able to play in front of friends and family.
Her mother, Idalia, is also one of the reasons she is studying medicine. Idalia Lynch is a nurse.
“In high school I took anatomy and biology and it really interested me,” Claire said. “My mom is a nurse, so I think that kind of opened me up to the idea. I want to become a pediatrician because I love kids. I thought mixing the two would be a pretty cool job.”
Her favorite class currently is discussing evolution.
“The whole idea of evolution and how we kind of evolved from one species and we’re all kind of related, I think that’s really interesting,” she said.
Then she was off to her studies.
“I’m really proud of Claire,” Dyche said. “She’s a pretty impressive young woman.”
NMSU: The Aggies (4-9-1, 1-0-1) face WAC leader Seattle (7-5-1, 2-0-0) at home today at 3 p.m. New Mexico State goalkeeper Ashley Martin of Rio Rancho is second in program history with 140 career saves.