NM State soccer campaign claims first ever WAC title, heading to NCAA tournament

Alyssa Tapia

More stories from Alyssa Tapia

The New Mexico State Aggies spent several days in Seattle, Washington, to kick off the start of November. After holding the number three spot in the WAC, they battled California Baptist on Wednesday. NMSU defeated them and continued to play Seattle U on Friday. Dominating against Seattle U, the Aggies prepared to take on the number one team in the WAC. On Sunday, the NM State women’s soccer team made history by taking their first-ever WAC title and heading NCAA Tournament with their victory over Utah Valley.  

On November 2nd, the Aggies survived their first game in the WAC Tournament against California Baptist. There was not a score on the board in either half. In their first overtime game all season, NM State was able to make a goal within seven minutes ending in a 1-0 win. Freshman Sofia Beerworth focused on getting the ball in goal as she worked her way down the field and found space on the right sending the ball into the left side of the net. Nothing would go for Cali Baptist as Makenna Gottschalk made Wednesday’s game her ninth shutout of the season recording seven saves.  

Photo Courtesy of NMSU Athletics

Advancing to the Friday game against Seattle U, the Aggies expected their top performance players to score at least once. Bianca Chacon was granted a penalty kick, when Sophomore Tati Jerman stepped up to the ball. She secured the first goal of her career by hitting the upper left corner of the net, nowhere near the Seattle U goalkeeper. With another shutout under Gottschalk’s belt, she went 258 consecutive minutes without letting the opposing team score. This has proved a special year, as the 2022 NM State soccer campaign has the most wins in program history since 2009 and the most Conference Tournament wins as a team.   

The final game of the WAC Tournament took place on Sunday as the Aggies fought for the championship title. Similar to the previous games this week, there was only one goal made throughout the match. Just two minutes before halftime, Jerman made her second career goal with an assist from Chacon. The NM State defense remained solid as the Utah Valley squad couldn’t find the net, despite their 18 shots. This Rob Baarts team remained unwavering until the very end against the WAC’s number-one team, earning their well-deserved spot in the NCAA Tournament.  

“People think it’s about the ability to strike a ball. It’s the ability to stand in there, be under that kind of pressure, and put a ball where you want to.” Head Coach Baarts explains how Tati Jerman helped the team in not one but two Tournament games, “Her resilience, her touch, her ability to stay in the game, and understand what is happening in the game is so good.”   

Photo Courtesy of NMSU Athletics

When asked about Gottschalks’ successes throughout the tournament, Coach Baarts was speechless and almost brought to tears.   

Finally, the NM State women’s soccer team claimed their well-earned title of WAC Champions of 2022. On top of that, Xitlaly Hernandez, Loma McNeese, Sofia Beerworth and Tati Jerman each earned All-Tournament honors. The ever-impressive Makenna Gottschalk was selected as the Tournament MVP after achieving a whopping 15 total saves in three games. Set to face off against the number seven seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Aggies head to Mississippi State on November 11 at 2 p.m. MST. 

 

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