Zias down Texas-Permian Basin with smothering defense

Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers

It took the Eastern New Mexico University women’s soccer team a while to put Texas-Permian Basin away, but the Zias were never really in trouble.

ENMU held the Lady Falcons to just two shots in the match — including none on goal — and pulled away late for a 3-0 non-league victory at the ENMU soccer pitch.

Zias coach Travis McCorkle said he was happy with the win, even though he said ENMU (6-4) wasn’t as sharp as he would have liked. The Zias were playing for the first time in nine days against the NCAA Division III Lady Falcons (3-6).

“I don’t think UTPB was extremely dangerous offensively, but I don’t think we were either,” McCorkle said. “The result is fine, but if we want to do something in (the Lone Star Conference) our play today was not good enough.”

Senior midfielder Valerie Noriega scored late in the half, taking a feed into the middle from junior Anna Funck and firing the ball over Lady Falcons keeper Lauren Riggs from about 25 yards out. The Zias added goals from Kara Henderson and Nicole Bregler in the final 15 minutes.

“I had a couple of chances earlier in the half,” said the 5-foot-1 Noriega, who scored her first goal this season and second in two seasons at ENMU. “I got some good passes from our forwards and from Anna, and finally we got it right.

“It felt good to score.”

McCorkle said he wants to use Friday’s game and Sunday’s 2 p.m. home non-league contest against College of the Southwest to fine-tune the team’s play before returning to LSC action next week.

“It’s definitely a small step forward,” he said of the win, “but we’re trying to use these games to make sure our quality of play is improving.”

Noriega said the Zias were able to wipe away a little of a 5-2 loss to rival West Texas A&M in their most recent outing.

“We had very good possession (of the ball) tonight,” she said. “We took a lot of shots today (30 total, including 13 on goal).”

The Zias are nursing a few injuries, McCorkle said. Funck suffered an ankle injury during the match but should play Sunday, he said, while defenders Marcela Garcia and Katherine Coulombe could be out Sunday with ankle problems.

“Numbers-wise, we’re a little thin right now,” McCorkle said.