Two down, three to go

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

When the day began, there were six women’s soccer teams vying for the Mountain West Conference title. Now there are four.

The first round of the tournament saw two of the most dramatic finishes of the season, as UNLV defeated Wyoming 1-0 on a last-second goal and New Mexico edged SDSU in penalty kicks after the teams battled to a 1-1 tie during regulation.

Both the Rebels and the Lobos earned dates in the semifinal round, where they will face BYU and Utah, respectively.

In yesterday’s first game, UNLV overcame uncharacteristically flat play to defeat Wyoming on a buzzer-beater by junior forward Katie Carney. With time running out, Carney corralled a deflected ball just outside box and launched the ball into the back of the net, beating Cowgirl keeper Ashley Sheppard with exactly two seconds left.

Although the Rebels walked away with the win, Wyoming appeared to be the better team. UNLV looked sloppy from start to finish, and Cowgirl forward Comfort Adetoye kept the Rebels back line on their heels for most of the second half. Were it not for a few missed opportunities, Wyoming could very well have been the team leaving Ute Field in search of a victory party.

“(The Rebels) looked tired out there tonight,” said Utah head coach Rich Manning. “They got a lot of shots off, but a lot of them were from pretty far out. They looked a little sluggish.”

In the second game of the evening, New Mexico prevailed over SDSU in a hard-fought, physical match. Following a scoreless first half, junior midfielder Katelyn Ley broke the 0-0 tie, putting the Lobos on the board midway through the second period.

It didn’t take SDSU long to answer back. Minutes later, freshman forward Jessica Gordon scored the equalizer off a corner kick. The Aztecs lobbed the ball into the box, where it somehow found its way into the back of the net with just a little help from Gordon.

“They don’t need a lot of chances to score,” Manning said of the Aztecs. “Most teams need six or seven, but they only need one or two.”

When two overtime periods failed to produce a winner, the game went to penalty kicks. The lead changed several times before New Mexico’s Kaela Kelly buried her shot, forcing SDSU’s Alicia Piz into a do-or-die situation. Unfortunately for the Aztecs, Lobo keeper Shannon Adragna blocked Piz’s attempt, guaranteeing the Lobos a date with Utah tonight at 7 p.m.

“New Mexico is a great defensive team,” Manning said. “They are very disciplined, and I love the way that they work together as a team. New Mexico is going to be a tough team to play in this tournament.”

New Mexico may be a great team, but the Utes have history on their side. The Lobos have never won in Salt Lake City and are 0-5 in the all-time series.

UNLV’s Brie Kuhne battles with Wyoming forward Comfort Adetoye to protect the UNLV goal in the first half of the MWC tournament match at Ute Field. UNLV’s Katie Carney scored with two seconds left in the game to give the Rebels a 1-0 victory over Wyoming.

Melissa Crespo tries to keep a step ahead of Wyoming opponent Comfort Adetoye as the Utes led Friday’s game 2-0 during the second half at Ute Field.