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Newcomer of the Year Katesigwa Propels New Mexico to MW Championship Match with Golden Goal

by Alma Solis

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico earns a ticket to the Mountain West Championship match, after a 2-1 double overtime win over Utah State in the MW Semifinals. Zaria Katesigwa netted both goals for the Lobos to send them to the championship.

When the Lobos played the Aggies during the regular season, the team also won that match, 2-1, early into the second overtime period. In that match, the Lobos’ two goals were also scored by a single Lobo as Molly Myers netted both. Katesigwa earned both goals in today’s match.

In the first half, the Aggies came out full swing as they recorded five shots on goal, but the Lobos defense was there to halt their attacks every time. The half was highlighted by some outstanding saves by goalkeeper Emily Johnson and a great block by defender Jaelyn Hendren.

The Lobos also turned on the jets in the first half as they recorded four shots on goal with many strong runs towards the Aggies’ box. The offense in the first half was highlighted by a nailbiting run in the 26th minute as Jadyn Edwards and Katesigwa recorded shots on goal back-to-back to put pressure on Utah State’s Diera Walton and a close shot on goal by Alexa Kirton in the 40th minute.

Although statistically both teams ran out of steam in the second half, the most meaningful action came in the second 45 minutes. To start the second half, the Lobos fired off two shots and the Aggies recorded three shots but didn’t make much of them as all but one was off target. Edwards and Katesigwa showed why they were named Offensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, respectively, as New Mexico finally took the 1-0 advantage in the 69th minute. After Edwards gained possession of the ball just outside of Utah State’s box from a bad pass by the Aggies, she then set up Katesigwa perfectly to find the back of the net and get the Lobos on the board.

The Aggies then started upping the ante as they fired off three shots, although all three were out top. The Lobos also tried to get a little insurance as they launched off a couple more shots but were not successful. With just 50 seconds left on the clock, the Aggies tied the match up at 1-1 to send it to overtime.

With just a couple of off target shots in the first overtime period, there was not much action in the first extra ten minutes. Headed to the second overtime period, the Lobos focused in on the task of winning the match in overtime and not forcing the penalty kicks. Just under two minutes into the second overtime period, Aspen Headrick kicked the ball off the back of her foot to send it over to Katesigwa on the other side of the box. Katesigwa then proceeded to net the ball over Walton’s extended arms to find the top left of the net. The golden goal propeled the Lobos to a 2-1 double overtime win over Utah State, advancing to the Mountain West Championship match.

Katesigwa led the Lobos with four shots (three on goal) and scored both of New Mexico’s goals in the match. Edwards followed her with four shots (one on goal) and the assist to Katesigwa’s first goal. Johnson notched six saves and kept the Aggies to a single goal.

Ashley Cardozo led the Aggies with six shots (three on goal) but it was Kami Warner who scored Utah State’s lone goal in the 90th minute to send the match to overtime. Diera Walton notched four saves and allowed two goals.

The Lobos outshot the Aggies, 19-6, but Utah State had one more shot on target than New Mexico (7-6). It was an aggressive matchup as the Aggies notched 14 fouls, eight of those just in the first half, and the Lobos countered with 11 fouls. New Mexico notched six saves while the Aggies countered with four saves. Despite an offensive heavy game, there were only three total corner kicks the entire match as the Lobos earned one in the first half and the Aggies were awarded two in the first half.

New Mexico improves to 13-4-2 and 8-2-2 in Mountain West play as they advance to the conference championship match. The 13 wins ties for the second-most wins in single season program history and the second time head coach Heather Dyche has led the Lobos to a 13-win season. The program record for single season wins is 15 from the 1997 season. Utah State falls to 13-6-3 and 5-4-2 in conference action as they are eliminated from the MW tournament.

The Lobos advance to the Mountain West Championship match on Saturday at 12 pm (MT) in Boise, Idaho. The opponent will be the winner of the second semifinal match between No. 2 seed Fresno State/No. 6 seed Boise State.

The last time the Lobos advanced to the Mountain West Championship match was in the 2018 season. That season, they faced San Jose State in San Jose, Calif., ultimately falling to the Spartans. Ironically, that same season, the team advanced to the championship match after a 2-1 win in double overtime over the Wyoming Cowgirls. Now with the No. 1 seed, the Lobos are hoping to bring the momentum and their strong offensive power to become tournament champions and advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Head coach Heather Dyche appreciates the resilience and teamwork the Lobos continue to showcase through every match.

“What we preach for our team is that everything we do, we do together,” Dyche said. “We’ll ride the highs and lows together and luckily today, we can out on top.”

Dyche is excited for whoever the Lobos will face in the championship, knowing it will be another intense matchup no matter who they face.

“Both of those teams are outstanding right now,” Dyche continued. “It would be fun to play Boise State on their home field. They’ve been unbelievable this year and anytime you’re on someone’s home field, they have the fans and environment that makes it fun. Fresno State has been on a roll this year. Either team, we know we’re going to have a battle and it’s going to be a tough game.”

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