Eastern New Mexico University’s Lauren Standefer has a look of disbelief as teammate Valeria Noriega congratulates her on a second-half goal in the Zias’ win over New Mexico Highlands on Sunday. Photo by Kevin Wilson
The Eastern New Mexico University women’s soccer team was determined not to let anything spoil the Zias’ debut on their new pitch.
With just a bit of help from New Mexico Highlands, and a late insurance goal, the Zias posted a 2-0 win on Sunday to keep their record above .500 for the season.
Now they return to Lone Star Conference play for their final six regular-season matches, four of them on the road.
“This builds momentum for us,” said freshman midfielder Nicole Bregler, who got an assist on a late insurance goal. “And we wanted to win our first home game on this field.”
ENMU (8-6), now 4-1 this season in home matches, broke through on a fluke goal in the 61st minute when freshman forward Lauren Standefer’s shot from about 40 yards out on the right wing somehow trickled through the legs of Cowgirls freshman goalkeeper Dee McGillivray and into the net.
That turned the tide in what had been, to that point, a relatively even contest.
“That definitely makes a difference,” first-year Highlands coach Ron Blue acknowledged. “It’s tough when you lose confidence on a ‘soft’ goal.”
ENMU coach Travis McCorkle said the Cowgirls (3-7-2) were tougher than their record would indicate.
“They’re doing well in the RMAC (2-2-2 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference),” he said. “Ron has an outstanding team. They had some players who put us to the test today.”
It appeared Standefer’s third goal of the season might hold up, but just to make sure the Zias tacked one on in the closing moments when Bregler took the ball along the left endline and set up sophomore Megan Dozier, who scored her team-leading eighth goal of the season with a diving header in front.
“We were playing more defensive (with a lead), but you always want that second goal,” Bregler said. “The ball was played (to Bregler from) over the top; I figured I didn’t have an angle to shoot it, so I served it and Megan made a great diving header.
“Lauren Sandefer did a great job on the wing of serving balls in today. It kind of breaks the ice getting that first (goal).”
McCorkle said his second-year squad has shown some killer instinct.
“Nicole Bregler finished the game with that cross,” he said. “If she mishits the ball the game’s still on, but she picked her head up and found a great through pass to Megan.
“For a second-year team to have that ability to put away a team, it’s amazing.”
Blue was impressed with Eastern, which lost at Highlands last year.
“They played great,” he said. “Travis is doing an awesome job with the program. It was a good, even match today; we just made two huge mistakes.”
ENMU 2, NM Highlands 0
NM Highlands 0 0 — 0
ENMU 0 2 — 2
ENM — Lauren Standefer (unassisted), 60:02
ENM — Megan Dozier (Nicole Bregler), 86:17
Shots on goal —
New Mexico Highlands 7, Eastern New Mexico 7. Corner kicks —
New Mexico Highlands none, Eastern New Mexico 2. Saves —
New Mexico Highlands 5 (Dee McGillivray 5), Eastern New Mexico 7 (Stephanie Sanchez 2, Amanda Vanlandingham 5). Yellow cards —
New Mexico Highlands none, Eastern New Mexico 1 (Valeria Noriega). Records —
New Mexico Highlands 3-7-2, Eastern New Mexico 8-6-0. A —