The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

In the driver's seat

Hounds will get home playoff opener with win Sunday


October 28, 2018

Kevin Wilson

Charlotte Collins-Blaize watches her shot go past Texas-Permian Basin goalkeeper Raeann Garcia for her second tally of the game Friday at Greyhound Stadium. The Greyhounds can clinch a home playoff game with a win today over Angelo State.

PORTALES — Once Friday night in the Lone Star Conference had concluded, two absolutes were known for the women’s soccer postseason tournament:

n West Texas A&M would be the top seed and host the semifinals and championship.

n Eastern New Mexico and Texas A&M-Commerce would face each other Wednesday in the first round’s 4-5 matchup.

Thanks to a persistent attack and Charlotte Collins-Blaize, the Greyhounds are in the driver’s seat for who hosts that playoff opener.

Collins-Blaize scored twice Friday, as Eastern defeated Texas-Permian Basin 3-0 to set up a high-stakes home finale Sunday.

If the Greyhounds (7-7-2, 5-5-1 LSC) win Sunday’s 1 p.m. contest against Angelo State, they’ll finish with 19 conference points and overtake the Lions (9-7, 6-6, 18 points) for fourth place and host Wednesday’s matchup. A tie or a loss, and the Greyhounds are getting on the bus instead.

Angelo State (10-5-2, 7-2-2) has some motivation as well. It needs a win and a Texas Woman’s loss at Midwestern State to overtake the Pioneers for the second seed and a first-round bye. Otherwise, it will take the third seed and host either Midwestern State or Texas-Permian Basin — who enter Sunday separated by a point in the standings.

In the big picture, Friday’s contest was never really in doubt. Motivated by a need to notch every possible tiebreaker edge with the Lions, the Greyhounds pushed through the 90th minute for a fourth goal to push up the season goal differential.

“There is a smal chance it might come down to that,” ENMU coach Joshua Smith said, “so we wanted to try to push that up another goal if we could.”

The Greyhounds had several chances, included an early Kaitlyn Caro goal nullified by an offsides, before finally capitalizing 43 minutes in. Jaci Sievers fired the ball from the field’s northwest corner, and Anahi Hernandez lofted a pass that seemed to hang in the air for an eternity before Collin-Blaize put it in the open net.

“I was worried a defender was going to come,” Collins-Blaize said. “I had so much time there was no way I could miss. It was a perfect ball.”

Smith said he had confidence in the play, despite its slow development.

“She’s pretty skilled with headers,” Smith said. “She doesn’t just hit it hard off of her head; she finesses it. I had a pretty good feeling when it came off of (Hernandez;) foot that she would handle it just fine.”

Collins-Blaize struck again in the second half when a Victoria Nunez pass got over the top of the Falcon defense and she won a footrace against her defenders — and surprisingly, goalkeeper Raeann Garcia.

“Victoria just had a perfect pass,” Collins-Blaize said. “I thought the goalkeeper was going to come out and get it because she had the better chance at it, but she backed of. From there, it was just a matter of where I was going to place it.”

Keyara Zuniga, who was credited with an assist on Collins-Blaize’s second goal, got her own tally when she knocked in her own rebound past Garcia in the 80th minute.

The Greyhounds outshot the Falcons 26-7, including 15-1 on goal, in what was a mismatch by nearly every metric.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries, and we’re not running many subs,” Falcons assistant Odilon Garcia said. “They’ve got a pretty good team. Even with just three subs, I thought we did a pretty good job. Our keeper did great.”


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