Freedom New Mexico: Kevin Wilson Zias midfielder Andrea Elizondo makes a play on the ball from the ground after a collision with New Mexico Highlands forward Kimberly Hutchings in the first half of Monday’s women’s soccer match at the ENMU pitch.
By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
PORTALES — A letdown wasn’t a fear, or an option, in the Zias’ minds.
Two days after upsetting rival West Texas A&M to open Lone Star Conference play, Eastern New Mexico picked up right where it left off, pushing its shutout streak to four in a 3-0 victory over New Mexico Highlands on Monday at the ENMU pitch.
The game was never in doubt for the Zias (6-4), who scored twice in the first 10 minutes and locked down on defense for their fifth straight win.
Senior Samantha Lawrence scored 4:21 into the contest on a centering pass by Danielle Thurman, and senior midfielder Leslie Weber tallied another goal five minutes later on a Thurman centering pass that just missed Lawrence.
“I thought we had the same intensity we had going into the WT game,” said Weber, who scored her first of the year, “the same excitement.”
And that was the point, Zias coach Ray Nause said.
“For us, there wasn’t a talk about letdowns,” Nause said. “It was about if we could continue at the high level again.
“One win does not get you anywhere. If we’re trying to be a program on the rise, we have to come out and show it.”
The Zias’ defense did just that, holding the Cowgirls without a corner kick for the first 37 minutes and just two shots on goal all afternoon. They have gone nearly 444 match minutes since allowing a goal.
Lawrence, who holds the school record for goals, tacked on the 36th of her career two minutes into the second half.
Cowgirls coach Justin Wagar noted the Zias scored on their first two shots on goal of the game, and their first shot on goal of the second half.
“All of their goals were early in the first half and second half,” Wagar said. “It’s a lack of focus on our parts, and great focus on their parts.”
Nause was vocal in the second half about the squad making low-percentage passes on offense, but was happy with how the Zias established themselves from the opening whistle.
“We were really efficient early,” Nause said. “We got two good chances and buried them both in the back of the net. As we get into conference play, chances are going to be hard to come by.”
The Zias return to LSC action on Friday with a 4 p.m. home match against Southwestern Oklahoma.