By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
Eastern New Mexico University senior Megan Dozier found the third time to be the charm.
Stymied on two previous penetrations into the scoring zone moments earlier, Dozier slipped inside to score on a give-and-go type of play with junior forward Amy Wilcox with just over a minute left, giving the Zias a 2-1 win over Fort Lewis on Thursday in the season opener for both teams at the ENMU pitch.
Dozier, the Zias’ all-time leading scorer with 24 goals, passed the ball ahead on the right to Wilcox, who touched it back to her. Dozier, called for a foul earlier against Fort Lewis keeper Bree Baker, just managed to slip the shot under Baker and into the net.
“We work on those plays every single day in practice, and it worked out for us,” said Dozier, a 5-foot-4 forward from Midland, Texas. “We kept pressuring them, and we finally made it.”
The Zias, who led 1-0 at halftime on an unassisted goal by freshman Samantha Lewis with less than five minutes left in the period, saw the Skyhawks tie it on Kate Mahler’s goal with 20 minutes left and had to fend off several other Fort Lewis rushes in the half.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” said Skyhawks coach Jaymee Carozza, whose team beat ENMU 3-1 last year in Durango, Colo. “We just didn’t really capitalize.”
Fort Lewis, coming off a 13-4-3 season in 2005, nearly took the lead in the 56th minute, but sophomore midfielder Kelli Love’s goal was nullified by a handball call.
“We have some things to work on when we go back home,” said Carozza, whose team will stay over to play a match against Montana State-Billings on Saturday at ENMU. “But we still have 18 games to go, so we can’t dwell on this one.”
Dozier said the Zias’ depth was a factor.
“They’re one of the toughest opponents we play,” she of the Skyhawks. “We had a lot of subs that helped us today. They’re good players and they’ll play strong.”
ENMU coach Travis McCorkle said the Skyhawks appeared to have things going for a stretch in the second half.
“They definitely had their chances; their finishing (plays) just wasn’t very good,” he said. “But they’ll win plenty of games this season.”
The match was the first of four in six days on their own turf for the Zias, who after next Tuesday play at home only once in a stretch of a month. ENMU hosts Prescott, Ariz.-based NAIA member Embry Riddle at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
“These games are so important,” McCorkle said. “Our bench being so much better (this year) made all the difference in the world.
“Last year Fort Lewis just killed us; they definitely dominated the game. For us to be in this game, it’s a credit to the girls.”