ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the past few years, the road to a Women’s Soccer Mountain West Championship has gone through UNM. The Lobos have cemented themselves as a premier team in the conference and gone to multiple NCAA tournaments. While the play on the pitch has been consistent, it isn’t as simple as it seems.

“It’s hard every year,” said Head Coach Heather Dyche. “The great thing about the Mountain West is that everybody is really good. There’s never an easy game, and it’s a league that we like to play in. The past couple years, you need a lucky shot, a lucky bounce, to win a conference championship, and I think that will be the case again this year for whoever wins it. I know we will fight and be in contention for as long as we possibly can be.”

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The past few seasons the Lobos were fortunate to have an upperclassmen-heavy roster thanks to an extra COVID year for players, but UNM has finally lost its leadership. Last season, the team relied heavily on now NWSL player Jadyn Edwards and Leilani Baker. This season, the team isn’t expected to be top-heavy on goal scorers. Now, the Lobos are transitioning to finding the back of the net from more of a collective effort.

“It’s really fun because you get to see new players stand out every single game,” said midfielder Brynn Boetink. “It’s really great to see younger players get to step up in different ways than you haven’t seen before, and I think it’s really fun as a player because you know that everybody on the team has your back.”

UNM opens the season on Thursday as the Lobos host Texas Tech. The match will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. and be shown on the Mountain West Network.