LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Oct. 28)-In the 2011 home finale, the New Mexico State soccer team defeated Hawai'i, 1-0. The Aggies recorded their first shutout of WAC play in the win on senior night for forward Cassandra Branch.
NM State improved to 9-7-3, which ties a program-best win mark, and 2-3-2 in the conference. The Rainbow Wahine fell to 4-11-1 and 3-2-1. With the win and Nevada falling to Fresno State, 2-1, the Aggies qualified for the WAC Tournament as the sixth seed.
The Aggies are making their first appearance in the conference tournament under first-year head coach Blair Quinn, and it is also the first trip since the 2009 season.
"It was great," Quinn said. "As cliché as it is, it was do or die, we had to win the game to give us the best chance to get in.
"It was inspired. I told them before the game, everything I've said and done since August doesn't matter anymore, it comes down them and what they say and more importantly what they do. They responded to each other really well."
In the second half, the Aggies attacked quickly and moved the ball up the field on a free kick to junior forward Yolanda McMillion. She drew junior goalkeeper Kanani Taaca away from the net and found freshman midfielder Bree Luhrsen at the left corner of the box for the strike.
The goal gave the Aggies a 1-0 lead in the 51st minute. The score was Luhrsen's third of the season and the fourth assist for McMillion.
After 45 minutes of action, the match was tied 0-0. The Aggies were aggressive offensively and posted an 8-3 advantage in shots. McMillion and sophomore midfielder Mary Kate Koziol paced the Aggies with two shots each. NM State also had a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks.
Redshirt goalkeeper Jessica Schutter earned the shutout with a pair of saves and anchored the defense that only allowed five shots.
"The back line was as solid as we've been the entire conference season," Quinn said. "Jessica Schutter had to come in and play after an injury to Erin (Wosick) on Thursday. Schutter hadn't played in the conference yet and came in and did a great job. It was the first shutout of conference play, and it couldn't have come at a better time."
The WAC Tournament begins Thursday, Nov. 3 in Fresno, Calif.