Jackson grad leader of women’s football in New Mexico
Jadyn Edwards, New Mexico women’s football player, graduate of Jackson High School. (photo by University of New Mexico)
At this point last season, Jadyn Edwards scored one of the most important goals in the history of women’s football for the University of New Mexico.
The Lobos were playing San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference Championship game on April 17 in Albuquerque, and everything was on the line. The winner took home the conference title and a berth in the NCAA tournament, something. that New Mexico hadn’t accomplished in a decade. The losing season was probably over.
The situation could not have been more tense. San Diego State scored just six seconds from the end of regulation time, nullifying Edwards’ goal and tying 2-2 to force a sudden death overtime.
That’s when the Jackson High School graduate had her magical moment.
In the 96th minute, New Mexico’s Maysa Walters sent a cross into the box from the right. San Diego State goalie Alexa Madueno could only parry the ball on Edwards’ path, and Edwards tucked the rebound into the top of the net to end the game and send the Lobos to the tournament. NCAA for the first time since 2011.
“As a coach it was probably the best moment of my career,” said Lobos coach Heather Dyche. “I think Jadyn would say the same.”
“The ball was bouncing in the air, it was on my left foot, and all I was thinking about was, ‘Keep it on the ground and on the frame,’” Edwards recalls. “Then I passed out for the next 30 seconds. It was unbelievable. It’s a great feeling to be able to celebrate with my teammates and the fans.
Now Edwards and the Lobos are looking to recreate the magic and return to the NCAA tournament for a second straight season.
New Mexico begins play in the Mountain West Conference tournament on Thursday when the seeded Lobos face fourth-seeded Utah State in the semifinals at 10 a.m. PT in Boise, Idaho. The winner of that game will face the winner between second-seeded Fresno State and sixth-seeded Boise State on Saturday at 11 a.m. for the conference title and an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
And Edwards is leading the charge forward. Edwards, now a senior forward who was the 2017 Herald’s Women’s Football Player of the Year, had a spectacular season, leading New Mexico in goals (10) and assists (eight) as the Lobos finished first in Mountain West at 7-2. -2 (12-4-2 overall) in the regular season.
Although Edwards scored New Mexico’s decisive goal last season, scoring goals was not his specialty. Edwards played as a forward alongside finishers Gwen Maly and Alesia Garcia, meaning her role was more of a playmaker. She finished the season with three goals and three assists while starting all 13 games. of the Lobos, winning All-Mountain West First Team honors.
However, both Maly and Garcia left, with Maly graduating and Garcia transferring to LSU. Therefore, while Edwards still plays as a retired striker, she has been asked to be more of a goalscorer. She did well.
“I think this season she’s grown a lot,” Dyche said of Edwards. “Her ability to recognize where the spaces are and to create for herself has improved. In addition, in tight spaces, you cannot take the ball away from him. And what’s most special is you can’t stop her one-on-one because she’s amazing on the ball.
“Last year she was more of a playmaker while others got the glory. This year, she’s both.
Edwards had been a goalscorer in the past, but it was still an adjustment to get back to the goal scorer’s mindset.
“It’s a huge shift in mindset,” said Edwards. “We lost a few goal scorers last year and needed someone to score goals. I kind of had to change to be more selfish, take more pictures and take more people than I did last year.
It took Edwards a few games to find the beach, but once she did, she didn’t stop. She scored her first goal of the season against her hometown team as the Lobos beat Washington 2-1 in their fourth game. She followed it with a hat trick in a 6-2 win over northern Arizona four days later. And she finished the regular season with three goals and three assists in the Lobos’ last four games as New Mexico took 10 points out of their last 12 possible to claim the No.1 seed in the conference.
Now Edwards and the Lobos are two wins away from a return to the NCAA tournament, where they won their first tournament game in school history last season by beating Navy 2-1 in the first round via penalty shootout – Edwards converted his 4-2 win attempt to a shootout.
“We know we’re the team with the target on our back, and I think we’re excited for that and ready for the squeeze,” said Edwards, a biology major with a chemistry minor who plans to use his extra year of COVID. eligibility to return for a fifth season next year. “We’re playing really well, to be honest. I think we’re doing very well in terms of chemistry and ball movement. I think the last piece is scoring goals.
This is the piece that Edwards provided so spectacularly last season. And that’s the play she’s improved, much to the benefit of the Lobos, this season.