UNM women's soccer capture MWC tourney title

The top-seeded UNM Women's soccer team scored just 19 seconds into the championship game of the Mountain West Tournament to claim the MWC championship, defeating Wyoming 2-0 to claim the MWC's automatic bid to the NCAA Women's College Cup. Before a partisan crowd of 714 at the UNM Soccer Complex, the Lady Lobos scored in the first minute of the match on a play from a couple of local players.

On UNM's first possession of the game junior Natalie Jenks headed a cross from senior Jael Fanning past Wyoming goalkeeper Courtney Merkle into the Cowgirls' net for what would prove to be the game-winner. Both Jenks and Fanning played at Albuquerque's La Cueva High School.

"The keeper called for it, but she didn't come out," said Jenks. "You could see there was confusion between the defender and the keeper, so I went hard at the ball and got a nice, easy tip off my head."

Lobo sophomore goalkeeper Kelli Cornell said the early goal set the tone for the match as UNM (12-4-4) was able to control the pace of the game.

"That goal took a lot of pressure off our defense," said Cornell. "This win was super. This was our goal from the beginning of the season, but we worked hard from the end of last year with the goal of winning conference (regular season) and the tournament."

New Mexico finished up scoring in the 89th minute with an open-net goal from senior Jennifer Williams as Wyoming pushed forward trying to gain a game-tying goal.

Wyoming finished the season with a 12-6-4 mark.

Cornell finished with five saves as the UNM defense allowed just nine shots on the day from Wyoming. Merkle pulled in eight saves as UNM peppered the Cowgirls' goal with 10 shots on goal and 15 shot overall.

The Lady Lobos, who won the regular season title last year only to lose in the

"We're more prepared this time," said Vela. "We played a season that not only prepared us for the Mountain West but for other things that we planned to come our way."

Jenks said the team will go into the NCAA tournament with more understanding of what they need to do.

"Having the experience of gong to the NCAA last year will help us," she said. "We know what to expect and we've prepared for it."

UNM will find out when and where they'll play on Monday when the NCAA releases the 64-team bracket for the Women's College Cup. The selection show will be shown Monday at 2:30 p.m. MST exclusively at NCAA.com.


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