RIO GRANDE VALLEY – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros women’s soccer team was defeated 1-0 by the New Mexico State (NMSU) Aggies in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) home opener Friday at the UTRGV Soccer and Track & Field Complex.
UTRGV (2-8-0, 0-3-0 WAC) freshman keeper Emma Lööv had a career night, tallying seven saves. NMSU (4-2-3, 1-0-2 WAC) keeper Makenna Gottschalk also had a big night, making four saves to secure the shutout. Loma McNeese scored the only goal of the contest to give the Aggies their first conference win.
The Aggies maintained possession and applied a lot of offensive pressure for the first half of the opening 45 minutes, but UTRGV’s defense held tough. Lööv made a diving save in the 11thth minute, punching away a shot by Gianna Valentithen stymied another Valenti scoring attempt in the 27thth minutes. Redshirt junior midfielder Elina Seppälä, freshman defender Rosey Bjorgvinsdottir and sophomore defender Libby Beilfuss were solid on defense.
The back end of the first half was a more even affair. Both teams created chances and seemed to split time of possession. Senior midfielder Ana Recarte-Pacheco and senior forward Jeweleen Reuille were catalysts for the Vaqueros offense. Sophomore defender Nadia Colon and Seppälä showed off their speed and dribbling skills to race into the offensive third and get UTRGV’s crowd loud. The Vaqueros took three shots in the first half – Seppala sent one on goal in the 31stSt minute that was corralled after bouncing around in the box, Recarte-Pacheco had one save and freshman forward Caitlin Webster‘s shot in the 44th minute was blocked by an Aggie.
Both teams came out aggressive in the second half as they were each chasing their first WAC win. In the 56th minutes, Sydney Johnson sent a strange shot to the box that lured Lööv out of the goal, but the ball got away from her. Freshman midfielder Alaina Granger was there to kick the ball away, making a clutch save.
Reuille and sophomore defender Sydney Hammond Sent good shots on goal in the 59th and 67th minute, respectively, as the Vaqueros amped up the pressure, but Gottschalk came up with saves.
NMSU took charge as the second half rolled on and made UTRGV’s defense work. Lööv recorded two massive saves following free kicks in the 72ndn.d minute, setting a new career high. Both teams were issued a yellow card in a short time span as the match got more intense and physical.
The Aggies continued to turn up the pressure as they played to win. In the 77th minute they took two good shots, and the second finally broke through as McNeese snuck one between the right post and Lööv.
Both teams continued to press until the final buzzer rang, but the Vaqueros were unable to get on the board. NMSU outshot UTRGV 16-9, including 10-4 with shots on goal, and dominated corners with 10 to UTRGV’s three.
The Vaqueros continue a four-game homestand at the UTRGV Soccer and Track & Field Complex on Sunday at 12 pm against Sam Houston.
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