The Aggies’ defense struggles as NMSU soccer loses to Utah Valley

On the evening of September 25, the Aggies travelled to Orem, Utah, to play against the Utah Valley Wolverines in a WAC conference game. With a record of 5-5 heading into this matchup, the Aggies looked to turn their fortunes around and continue their winning ways against the 5-4-1 Wolverines.

The first period started slow, as the Aggies only attempted two shots on goal in the first period against this physical Utah Valley defense. Though the Wolverine defense was stout, the Aggies brought the defensive skill to the game as well, led by the solid play of their backline and keeper Makenna Gottschalk.

NMSU’s defense was very stubborn to begin the game, the momentum quickly shifted in the favor of Utah Valley. In the 29’, Utah Valley’s Nicole Ray kicked the ball into the bottom left corner of the net off a beautifully executed assist from Sadie Brockbank. Soon after, in the 43’, the Wolverines scored yet another goal, but was called back due to a controversial off-sides penalty, which was not followed by any video review or replay.

This was followed by several more shots on goal by the Wolverines, and one final shot by the Aggies before the end of the period to no avail. However, this was only the beginning of a momentum shift in Utah Valley’s favor.

Almost immediately after entering the second period of the game, Wolverine forward Sadie Brockbank put yet another shot into the net thanks to some efficient passing by both Julianna Carter and Heather Stainbrook in the 59’ of the game.

The Aggies offense continued to execute their offense at a very methodical pace, one where they slowly picked apart the defense with intentional passes and taking only the open and smart shots available to them on the goal.

Despite some precise passing and tough shots by midfielder Xitlaly Hernandez, the Aggies were unable to capitalize and continued their heels against this tenacious Utah Valley offense. As the game continued, the tempo began to slow down for both teams, as no shots were taken on the goal by either team for 14 minutes between the 69’ and the 83’. This slow affair continued throughout the duration of the game, as the Aggies dropped this game with an official score of 2-0 Utah Valley.

In the context of this particular game, numbers did not lie in how this game was won. The Utah Valley Wolverines had 12 more total shots, 9 more shots on-goal than NMSU and 13 corner kicks to the Aggies’ zero. The front line of this Aggie defense had a solid showing in this game, but they will look to improve on capitalizing on their shot opportunities and allowing fewer open shots from the middle of the field against their next opponents to come.

The Aggies are now 5-6 on the season and look to move back to a .500 record, as they will face Seattle University in Las Cruces on Oct. 1.

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