By Dave Wagner
The first-year Eastern New Mexico University women’s soccer team assured itself on Friday that it won’t finish at the bottom of the Lone Star Conference this season.
The Zias got two goals in a span of 3 1/2 minutes of the second half and staved off Southwestern Oklahoma 2-1, also earning their first home win this season in five tries.
ENMU (3-11, 2-6), which ended a seven-match losing streak, wraps up its season with a noon contest on Sunday against Central Oklahoma. The Zias relegated SWOSU (2-16-2, 0-9) to the LSC basement.
Freshman midfielders Stacia Givens and Kayla McKamey, both Artesia High graduates, rescued ENMU from a 1-0 halftime deficit with unassisted goals, and the Zias were able to hold on over the final 30 minutes.
“We had some close (scoring) chances, and they definitely had some chances to tie the game up or win it (late),” ENMU coach Travis McCorkle said.
Givens tied the game on a corner kick from the right side at the 56:19 mark. Her left-footed boot blew back towards the goal, with the ball deflecting off the hands of Lady Bulldogs keeper Lindsey Kurtz and into the net.
“I had no idea it even went in,” said Givens of her first goal of the season. “I actually tried to kick it away from the goal, but that obviously didn’t happen.
“I usually can’t kick from that corner, so it was awesome that it went in.”
The second goal came in a scramble in front of the Southwestern net. McKamey tapped the ball in from point-blank range for her second goal of the season.
“One of her defenders tried to clear the ball out of there, but I just heard that ball calling my name,” McKamey said. “Our assistant coach (Tracy Simmons) told us their goalie hadn’t been catching the ball that well, and to be ready. Sometimes, it pays off.”
McCorkle said it was a matter of want-to by McKamey.
“I think Kayla got that goal strictly through effort,” he said. “That’s something we’ve talked about with her — finding a way to disrupt the other team or create turnovers or (scoring) opportunities.”
The Lady Bulldogs drew first blood just over 16 minutes into the opening half when senior defender Stacy Lee punched a free kick from 15 yards out into the upper right corner of the net. The play was the result of a handball called inside the penalty box against ENMU’s Angelina Green.
It was the second consecutive winless LSC run for SWOSU, which tied Texas Woman’s for the cellar last year at 0-7-1.
The Lady Bulldogs had 25 players on their roster but brought only 13, mainly the result of injuries.
“They just outworked us to win the game,” third-year coach Joe Bradley said. “It was a disappointing year for us. We expected to do better than we did, but injuries made a huge difference.”
Two Zias were injured during the match. Freshman forward Megan Dozier won’t play Sunday after reinjuring a knee on McKamey’s goal that she hurt a week earlier.
Sophomore defender Amy Barbour’s status for the finale was not immediately known, McCorkle said, after she left later in the match with an ankle injury.