By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
Two shots off the crossbar.
That was how close the Eastern New Mexico University women’s soccer team came to putting itself in position for a major Lone Star Conference upset on Friday at the ENMU pitch.
Unfortunately, close doesn’t count, and Central Oklahoma broke through on a goal by junior midfielder Lindsey Hull in the 78th minute for a 1-0 victory.
The Bronchos (11-3-1, 5-0-1 LSC) kept themselves in position for a regular-season championship. They visit first-place West Texas A&M (9-3-1, 6-0-0) on Sunday with the title likely on the line.
Meantime, ENMU (10-6-0, 3-3-0) will try to enhance its position for an LSC tournament berth on Sunday when it hosts Southwestern Oklahoma, which lost at WT 4-1 on Friday.
Bronchos coach Mike Cook said he was glad to get out with a win.
“It was a tough game,” he said. “Eastern played very well; they’ve come a long ways.
“It’s a good win for us, especially on the road.”
ENMU women’s coach Travis McCorkle said he had no complaints about how his team played against the Bronchos.
“I think Central Oklahoma is the best team in the conference,” he said. “Central Oklahoma is so athletic, and Mike has the enviable job of being about to recruit from the Oklahoma City area.
“I was extremely pleased with the girls. My players are just grind-it-out type of players, and they play so hard.”
Central Oklahoma dominated the first half, owning a 5-1 advantage in shots on goal, but had nothing to show for it.
That left the Zias one play away from a possible upset.
“More than any other sport, you can dominate in soccer and still lose,” Cook said.
When play resumed, the Zias forced much of the action for the first 20 minutes. Both Nicole Bregler and Jessica Rosas fired shots off the crossbar from inside the 18-yard box, and the match remained scoreless until Hull took a feed from senior midfielder Ashley Golden and chipped a shot past ENMU goalkeeper Stephanie Sanchez.
“We just had a lull,” Cook said. “We kind of fell asleep a little bit. I’m happy we got it done today, but there’s always a concern when you don’t play consistent for 90 minutes.”
ENMU probably needs one win and perhaps two in its final three matches to nail down a top-six finish and a berth in the conference tournament.
“On Sunday we have to show we can play the same way we played today,” McCorkle said.
Hounds beat Southern — At Joplin, Mo., sophomore Rob Humphrey scored on a penalty kick midway through the first half Friday night and the ENMU men made it stand up to beat Missouri Southern 1-0 in a Southwest Soccer Conference game.
The Greyhounds (4-11-1, 2-8-0 SSC)avenged an earlier 1-0 overtime loss to the Lions (4-11-0, 2-8-0) at Portales. The teams have played four one-goal matches in the last two seasons — with each team winning both contests on the other’s field.
Sophomore goalkeeper Leif Craddock made four saves for the Hounds, who play an SSC match against Northeastern State on Sunday at Tahlequah, Okla.