New Mexico suspends Lambert for hair pulling
PROVO, Utah -- A New Mexico soccer player has become an Internet celebrity for the wrong reasons.
Junior defender Elizabeth Lambert was suspended Friday for her infractions the day before during a 1-0 loss to BYU in a Mountain West Conference semifinal. Lambert is seen in video from the game throwing elbows, colliding with several players and then yanking the ponytail of a BYU player who went crashing to the ground.
"My actions were uncalled for," Lambert said in a statement released by New Mexico. "I let my emotions get the best of me in a heated situation."
Lambert's actions brought unprecedented -- and very unwanted -- attention to the Mountain West women's soccer tournament.
Video highlights have been airing nationally since Thursday night and not because it was a thrilling game decided on Carlee Payne's header in the 31st minute. The focus of the highlights is more on Lambert's physical play, especially her takedown of BYU's Kassidy Shumway by grabbing her ponytail and pulling her backward.
New Mexico moved quickly to announce Friday that Lambert has been suspended indefinitely. The Mountain West followed with a statement commending the Lobos for acting promptly.
"Liz is a quality student-athlete, but in this instance her actions clearly crossed the line of fair play and good sportsmanship," New Mexico coach Kit Vela said.
Lambert was the only player to be penalized in the game, getting a yellow card in the 77th minute for colliding with a BYU player who was driving toward the Lobos' net. The highlights showed the game was physical in both directions, including an elbow to Lambert's ribs by a BYU player during a dead ball.
Lambert responded with an elbow to the back, one of many regrettable plays she made in the game.
"This is in no way indicative of my character or the soccer player I am," Lambert said in her apology. "I am sorry to my coaches and teammates for any and all damages I have brought upon them. I am especially sorry to BYU and the BYU women's soccer players that were personally affected by my actions."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press