LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – On July 10, 2023, tragedy struck the New Mexico State women’s soccer team.

20-year-old Thalia Chaverria, a member of the team, was found dead in her home. A roommate called first responders after having discovered Chaverria unresponsive at their residence in the 2400 block of El Dorado Court in Las Cruces, authorities said. Suicide and foul play were not immediately suspected.

Chaverria was a huge part of NMSU’s team that made the NCAA Tournament in 2022, starting 20 games on the backline. Chaverria was an All-WAC Honorable Mention selection at NMSU as a freshman in 2021. In high school, she was a first team all-Area selection at Frontier High School in Bakersfield.

This happened before the start of the 2023 NCAA women’s regular soccer season. The entire season, New Mexico State played with heavy hearts, playing for Thalia Chaverria.

The Aggies, led by head coach Rob Baarts got off to a slow 3-5-1 start in its non-conference portion of its season.

As soon as Conference USA play rolled around, the Aggies started playing some of its best soccer.

New Mexico State went unbeaten in CUSA regular season play, winning six games, tying in two, and losing none. The final win of the CUSA regular season came last Friday. New Mexico State visited Western Kentucky in a showdown for the conference regular season championship.

New Mexico State got a late second half goal from Meredith Scott and won the match 1-0 at full time.

NMSU won the CUSA regular season championship in its first year in the conference. Winning the regular season championship was one of the team’s big goals this year and for them to accomplish that goal after all the adversity the program faced, meant a lot to everyone involved.

“It was very emotional. I think the girls were exhausted, yet excited and at the same time, I think we were very just kind of emotional and missing “T” [Thalia Chaverria],” NMSU women’s soccer head coach Rob Baarts said. “We set out to win everything for “T” and step one has been accomplished and I couldn’t be prouder of these ladies because of what they’ve done.”

“It really does feel like we’ve been to hell and back this season. Just so many unexpected injuries and obviously the loss of a teammate,” NMSU women’s soccer forward Loma McNeese said. “So, this season moving forward means a lot and it’s extremely special to us. Accomplishing getting first place in the league was part of our plan and I’m really proud of us that we got to accomplish that.”

“We all play for her and just winning it [CUSA regular season championship] has been amazing,” NMSU women’s midfielder Biana Chacon said. “We’re doing it for her [Thalia Chaverria] now. Our job isn’t done yet. We have one more thing to do for her.”

Up next, the Conference USA Soccer Championships in Ruston, Louisiana.

New Mexico State earned a first-round bye and will face off against either No. 4 FIU or No. 5 Sam Houston in the semifinals round of the tournament on Friday, Nov. 3.