Leilani Baker senior season for UNM soccer came fast

Local Sports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For Leilani Baker, it seems as if it was yesterday when she was a freshman soccer player for the University of New Mexico. The former Rio Rancho star will start her senior season soon and wonders where did all of the time go.

“I have a lot of mixed emotions about it,” said Baker. “Like, I’m happy because I’m a senior and then I had the opportunity to play four years with all of my best friends, but then it’s sad because I’m done with soccer after this year.”

Baker has established herself as one of the top forwards in the Mountain West. She scored 7 of the Lobos 29 goals during her junior season last year. “I think Leilani is going to have a huge year this year,” said UNM women’s soccer coach Heather Dyche. “She deserves it. I mean she’s probably been one of the hardest working players on our team the past three years.”

Dyche has a New Mexico coaching staff and likes to take the top players from the state. It’s a badge of honor for New Mexico players. “I wear that with so much pride on my back that I’m from New Mexico and I play for New Mexico,” said Baker. “I’m sure all the other girls who are from here love they’re like the face of their home town.”

Dyche said taking local players is something that she will continue to do. “I think every year, two or three of our top players are from New Mexico because they are playing for something different when they have New Mexico on their chest,” said Dyche. “So, we’re really proud of that.”

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