By Dave Kavanaugh
Las Vegas Optic
New Mexico Highlands’ run at a league title in women’s soccer came to a halt Friday afternoon in Durango, Colo., courtesy of the Regis Rangers, the 23rd ranked team in NCAA Division II.
Now the Cowgirls hope their resumé is impressive enough to make the cut for NCAA II regionals. The field will be announced Monday evening.
Regis scored one goal in each half to pull away a 2-0 shutout in the semifinals of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament. Regis (14-4-1) was to play Fort Lewis, the No. 3 team in the land, in Sunday’s final.
NMHU (12-6-2) was held to seven shots, three by RMAC Player of the Year Julissa Rodriguez, while the Rangers tested a sturdy Cowgirl defense. Highlands keeper Amanda Rose Johnson turned away eight shots on goal, but the Rangers found the net twice.
The first time came just 3:04 into the match, when Rachel McMahon took a pass from C.C. Rinehart and slashed a shot in from the left side.
The Cowgirls stayed within a goal of tying until late in the 54th minute. That’s when Rinehart got in close and received a cross from Meghan Stuart before punching the ball in past Johnson.
NMHU has set team marks for wins in a season and recorded a first-ever postseason victory. Justin Wagar was named Coach of the Year; Rodriguez and three teammates made all-RMAC.