LAS CRUCES, N.M. – New Mexico State and Incarnate Word battled to a 0-0 draw on Thursday night at the NM State Soccer Complex after a back-and-forth affair that feature two strong defenses.
The night, which was deemed a Purple Out began with a moment of silence to honor Thalia Chaverria, an Aggie defender who tragically passed away on July 10. The NM State defense channeled its inner Thalia and played tough defense throughout the 90-minute tilt, allowing the Cardinals to get off just seven goals – only two of which landed on frame.
NM State’s first opportunity to get on the board came in just the 11th minute of action as Gia Valenti sent a ball in that sailed just over the crossbar. Moments later, Valenti and her teammates were defending against the UIW attack as the Cardinals registered their first shot on goal late in the 12th minute.
With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, NM State Head Coach Rob Baarts made strategic substitutions to allow several of his starters get some extra rest before the break. One sub allowed for freshman forward Shila Rasoul to enter the game for the first time. In the 41st minute, Rasoul battled for position before using her height to get her head on a ball and flick it toward the goal. The header nearly found the net but went a few feet over the goal to award UIW with a goal kick.
Later, the Cardinals recorded their second and final shot on goal when Addison Rodriguez broke free. However, Karolanne Lafortune was up to the task and calmly turned the shot away to send the two teams into their locker rooms all even at zero.
From an attacking perspective, the second half belonged to the Aggies as the NM State offense combined to take nine of its 13 total shots in the final 45 minutes of competition.
In the 60th minute of play, Aggie star striker Loma McNeese nearly put away her second game-winner of the season as she headed a ball that ricocheted off the left post before UIW defenders cleared the ball over the back line.
After coming close to scoring her first career goal in the first half, Shila Rasoul was even closer to glory in the 76th minute. Approaching from an angle, Rasoul fired a shot with her right foot from about seven yards out, however, UIW goalie Erica Defferding managed to get a firm fist on the shot to stimy the Aggies’ quest for a goal.
With both sides searching desperately for the game-winner, Loma McNeese was inches away from playing hero for the Aggies in the 84th minute as she went for goal off of a free kick at the top of the box that was created by Rasoul’s pressure. McNeese’s shot flew just above the outstretched arm of the UIW goalie before striking the top of the cross bar and falling behind the goal. This would prove to be either side’s last true attempt at coming away with a victory.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
- The 13 combined shots marked the second most attempts the Aggies have taken this season.
- Tonight’s match was perhaps the most physical that Aggies have played in thus far – committing a season-high in fouls (17).
- The draw versus UIW marks the second-straight and second career shutout for freshman keeper Karolanne Lafortune in just her third start in goal for the Aggies. With the shutout, Lafortune already ranks eighth all-time in program history in career shutouts.
NM State will return to the pitch on Sunday afternoon as the play host to the University of the Pacific. Sunday’s match is set to get underway at 1 p.m.