Stevens: Nare & Irwin -- a Pair of Lobo Iron Women In Sync

Sept. 12, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Women's Soccer - Vs. New Mexico State

When/Where: 4 p.m. Sunday - UNM Lobo Soccer Complex

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

They aren't really joined at the hip or connected by long, invisible puppeteer strings, but often they seem to move and flow as one.

There probably isn't some sort of psychic connection beaming back and forth between Liz Nare and Lauren Irwin, but the communication on the pitch between the two suggests there might be.

Maybe there is some instinct shared. For sure, they know each other's moves and seem to know that the other one is thinking. They are in sync physically and mentally. The harmony shows.

"They are instinctive about each other and that comes from playing together for three years," said Lobo Coach Kit Vela. "They get it at a really high level."

Said Irwin, a senior: "We have a good flow. We really connect well. Liz and I just click and a lot of it goes without being said. We just know how to work together."

This Lobo "Iron Woman" duo is in its third season playing together in the New Mexico defense. They have logged about 4,498 minutes together. Irwin set the UNM record for minutes played by a field player in 2010 with 1910. Nare snapped that mark in 2011 with 1983 minutes.

There are several reasons these two Lobos are difficult to take off the field.

1. They are exceptional defenders.
2. They don't want to leave the field.
3. Vela doesn't want them to leave either.

"You want to be out there. You never want to come out," said Nare.

Nare came to New Mexico from Lake Forest, Calif., and became interested in the Lobos after going to watch New Mexico play Santa Barbara. Nare said she went to that game to mostly watch Santa Barbara.

"The Lobo coaches had been following me for a quite a while, but I wasn't that interested because I just thought I'd go to school somewhere in California," said Nare.

"I was more interested in Santa Barbara and went to watch them play the Lobos. After watching that game and seeing how the (Lobo) girls acted toward each other, I was way more interested in New Mexico. You could just see a lot of caring between the Lobo players."

There were at least two more reasons that Nare gave New Mexico a serious look. The Lobos also were recruiting two of Nare's teammates: Brooke Ellison and Brianna Martinez.

"It's always hard to leave your family," said Nare. "I came here with two of my best friends and I'm sure it would have been tougher to come out here alone."

Nare got some early breaks as a Lobo. Oh, she was good, but there were some injuries in the UNM defensive side and Nare was a starter from Game One. She has played in 48 games as a Lobo and has started in all 48.

"I was very surprised to play my freshman year," she said. "Some unfortunate things happened to some people at my position and I was able to take advantage of my chance."

Senior Lauren Irwin

Irwin came to New Mexico from Anaheim, Calif. She also had a strong connection to UNM. She played club ball for seven years with Lobo keeper Kelli Cornell. "When I came here on my visit, it just seemed right," said Irwin. "I like the family feel to Lobo soccer.

Nare and Irwin obviously have similar qualities on the field. Irwin is taller and might have more of an athletic look to her gait. Nare's speed seems more explosive. Both Lobos go at defenders hard and with a purpose. They attack enemy strikers the way a pair of wolves might work a targeted doe.

"They are smart," said Vela. "They play well together and that's important with centerbacks. Liz has more of a bite to her. You are more likely to hear something from her."

Nare says, "I'm not big and I don't have the height or speed. But I know where I need to be and what I need to do."

Irwin disagrees with part of Nare's self-evaluation. "Liz doesn't think she's fast, but I think she's fast. She just does the right things. She anticipates and knows when to tackle, or when to go hard, or when to push a player into me or into Brooke (Ellison)."

The 2012 Lobos got off to a slow start, especially on the offensive end. They were shutout and beaten by Texas Tech, Iowa State and Nebraska. They have scored 4, 2, 2, and 2 goals, winning three of the past four.

They play New Mexico State at 4 p.m., Sunday at the UNM Soccer Complex.

"We're figuring it out," said Nare. "There is a lot of talent on this team."

Said Irwin, a two-time Mountain West Defense Player of The Week in 2011: "We had a slow start, but we are getting on the same page and I think when that happens completely, we'll be unstoppable."