LARAMIE, Wyo. – Wyoming soccer competes in its final road game of the season on Friday, in a matchup with the New Mexico Lobos slated for 7:30 p.m. MT. The Cowgirls then return home for a contest with the San Diego State Aztecs on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex.
Wyoming continues its push to the MW Tournament after a 2-1 victory over Fresno State last Sunday. The top six teams in the league advance to the conference tournament and the Cowgirls remain in sixth place after the win against the Bulldogs. The Cowgirls have won four of their last five games, and sit two points ahead of both Air Force and Friday’s opponent, New Mexico. UW has a history of finishing the season strong; last year the Cowgirls won their last three regular season games to earn a spot in the MW Tournament.
UW is fifth in the MW in shots per game (13.31 spg) and fourth in goals per game (1.50 gpg). Five Cowgirls now have three or more goals on the year, after junior defender Shaina Ashouri’s two-goal weekend. Jessie Gentle netted her first-career goal to help UW earn Sunday’s win, becoming the fifth Cowgirl this season to score a game-winning goal.
Wyoming’s leading scorer, freshman forward Michaela Stark, has tallied three goals and one assist in her last five games. Stark’s five goals ranks eighth in the MW, and she is tied for second in the conference in scoring among true freshmen. Senior defender Sammi Dunda leads UW with four assists this season, tying for the eighth-most in the league. Junior goalkeeper Georgia Rowntree is tied for the second-most shutouts in the league (5) and has tallied the fifth-most saves (57). Rowntree also ranks in the top-10 in goals-against average (1.28 gaa) and save percentage (.731).
“This weekend, going on the road to New Mexico, we know we’ll have our hands full,” UW head coach Pete Cuadrado said. “We have to stick to our game plan, make sure we execute for 90 minutes, and then we can compete. We come home and play San Diego State on Sunday, a team that’s been very good in recent years. We have them at home and know we can compete with anyone here, so we’re pretty excited about that.”
New Mexico moved up the league standings this weekend after a win over conference leaders Utah State and a draw against Boise State. The Lobos are 8-7-1 on the year and 3-4-1 in conference play. The Lobos have been strong on the defensive end, holding the third-best goals-against average in conference games. Junior goalkeeper Tayler Hammack has tallied the most shutouts (6) this season among MW goalkeepers, and owns the seventh-highest save percentage (.769) in the conference. New Mexico is also not afraid to play physical, ranking third in the league in fouls (173) and tied for fourth in yellow cards (13).
The Lobo offense is led by junior midfielder Claire Lynch, who has eight goals on the season, the second-most in the conference. Senior midfielder Maddie Irwin leads New Mexico in assists with three on the year. The Lobos have taken the second-most shots in the league but sit behind Wyoming in both goals (23) and points (60).
Wyoming is 7-14-5 all-time against the Lobos, and 2-2-1 under Cuadrado. UW won a 2-1 overtime thriller in the 2014 Mountain West Tournament against New Mexico to advance to the championship game. The Cowgirls last won in Albuquerque on Oct. 8, 2009, by a score of 2-1.
San Diego State has an overall record of 7-6-2 after a challenging non-conference slate, but are 5-1-2 in league play. The Aztecs earned six points last weekend with wins over Boise State and Utah State, outscoring their opponents 4-1, leaving them in second in the MW standings. In conference games, San Diego State leads the MW in shots (17.50 spg), while ranking fifth in goals (11) and third in assists (11). The Aztecs have also been much more solid in the back against league opponents, allowing only eight goals in eight games, the fourth-fewest among MW teams.
The reigning MW Offensive Player of the Week, junior forward Aliyah Utush, leads the Aztecs offense with three goals and five assists on the season. Utush tallied one goal and two assists in last weekend’s pair of games. Senior midfielder Victoria Barba, the reigning MW Defensive Player of the Week, helped the SDSU defense hold last weekend’s opponents to just a single goal and netted both goals against the Aggies.
The Cowgirls are 4-15-1 all-time against SDSU. UW’s last win over the Aztecs came at home in a 2-1 victory on Oct. 13, 2013.
The live stream of both matches will be available through GoWyo.com, and will also be available for viewing on the Mountain West Network at TheMW.com and on Campus Insiders at CampusInsiders.com. Live stats can be found at the links above. Follow the Cowgirls on Twitter (@WYOSOCCER) for live updates throughout each match.