NMSU Soccer Nets First Win Of The Season In 3-0 Victory Over Northern Illinois

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State women's soccer team jumped ahead early and rode a dominant performance on both sides of the ball to a 3-0 win over Northern Illinois on Sunday afternoon.

The win gave head coach Rob Baarts his first career win as a Division I head coach after spending the last 14 years as an assistant, 12 with his alma mater the University of Portland and the last two at San Jose State.

"What a great performance from our girls," Baarts said. "We've been focusing all week on revamping what our lineup looks like, what our formation looks like. I think Northern Illinois is in a similar position to us with a new coach, trying to find their rhythm and we find ours a little bit sooner."

Baarts trotted out a new starting lineup, starting Katie Martinez at forward and freshman Alexa Barrera in the midfield, and switched the Aggies' usual 4-3-3 formation to a 4-4-2. The changes paid off immediately when Barrera found Martinez in the box and Martinez knocked it home just 15 seconds into the game, the fastest goal to open a game in NM State (1-4) history and her first goal of the season.

"I think we found a great lineup that really jumped on them from the get-go," added Baarts. "Scoring a goal 15 seconds into the game was just such a big, uplifting moment for our team to carry confidence into the rest of the game, to believe we can play in a new formation that was pretty foreign to a lot of our players and I thought they responded to it well."

New Mexico State had a number of chances to stretch its lead before halftime but Megan Donnally kept the Huskies (0-4) in it with saves in the 23rd, 25th, 43rd and 44th minutes. Mia Montano faced just two shots in the first half, making a save in the 21st minute to keep NM State in the lead.

The Aggies came out of the halftime break strong, controlling possession before Donnally somehow got in front of a point-blank rocket from Aileen Galicia in the 55th minute.

New Mexico State then extended its lead to 2-0 when Emma Smith played a perfect through ball to Rebecca Mazzie in the middle who beat Donnelly to her left for her first goal of the season.

With a 2-0 lead, NM State continued to pressure NIU, getting shots from Barrera in the 61st minute and Martinez in the 63rd minute before Mazzie sent in a screamer that hit the crossbar in the 66th minute.

After saves from Donnally in the 74th and 86th minutes, Kelly Burton received a corner kick in the 86th minute from Alexa Barrera just outside the 18-yard box and launched a rocket into the far corner for her first career goal.

Barrera finished the match with two assists, the first and second of her career, while the Aggies' backline of Burton, Samantha Afonso, Grace Olson and Kaitlyn May dominated as they only allowed five shots and one shot on goal.

NM State outshot Northern Illinois 19-5 and took six corner kicks to the Huskies' three. Montano finished the game with one save while her counter-part Donnally stopped 10 shots in 13 shots on goal.

The win was the Aggies' first at home in which they held a non-conference opponent scoreless and scored at least three goals since a 7-0 victory over Division II Embry-Riddle on Sept. 23, 2011.

NM State now hits the road for a tough matchup against Abilene Christian at 1 p.m. (MT) on Sunday, Sept. 2 before returning home to take on Boise State on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 1 p.m.. The Aggies' match at Abilene Christian is set to be broadcast live thanks to ACU Live.