Second half letdowns drop NM State soccer in home finale


Shane Buchanan

The Aggies fail to score in their regular season finale against GCU.

The New Mexico State soccer team concluded their regular season at the NM State Soccer Athletic Complex Friday afternoon with a 2-0 loss to budding rival Grand Canyon, falling into the fifth seed of the upcoming conference tournament.

The Lopes entered this regular season finale matchup streaking, going without defeat in their last five games while outscoring their opponents 19-3 in that span.

Knowing how to match up fairly quickly, the familiarity of these teams was made clear right out of the gates (with NM State beating GCU 2-1 in Phoenix a month prior). The Aggies defensive line held up strong early on, with freshman wingback Khari Price making the most of her newly found on-field opportunities. Being a freshman, Price took this playing opportunity to the heart, helping guide the ball up the line and make some dangerous throw-ins into the attacking half. GCU forward Marleen Schimmer would make he presence known though, winning a majority of the arial duels coming into the box as the Lopes’ talisman.

Schimmer got a few breakaways early on, always looking but was not able to find the back of the net, thanks in no small part to Fong and her consistent keeper skills. The Aggies did a good job of pressuring her, preventing from GCU from making clean services into the box.

Outside defender Emma Smith has been a work horse for the Aggies, working the ball out of the defensive third and up the line to help out on the offensive plays and connections. The Aggies challenged for balls in the air, and they stayed as a unit attacking, but GCU was largely in control throughout the first half despite not breaking duck.

In the second, the Aggies’ intensity was heightened with the help of Xitaly Hernandez inspiring some link up play. NM State’s best chance came when Jocelyn Tallent-Burleson went towards goal, setting up a good look for forward Corey Kizer that was just off the mark 15 minutes into the half.

GCU broke through off a counter attack that saw Briann Jones break away and slot it in to give Grand Canyon a 1-0 lead in the 73’. Shortly thereafter, Kameron Larson found herself with a good look at the net inside the 18-yard box, locking up the win for the Lopes’ with a second goal in just two minutes.

The Aggies will have to try shaking off the loss with some higher stakes than the regular season, with a showdown against UTRGV on the docket for WAC Tournament. Both matchups earlier in the season resulted in an NM State loss, but both were decided by a lone goal, setting up for an exciting head-to-head next week.

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