Photo: Elizabeth Lambert, right.
NEW YORK (CBS) Elizabeth Lambert became an Internet celebrity for all the wrong reasons this fall. Now the suspended New Mexico soccer player, who was caught attacking opposing players on tape, has met with the New York Times to put the aggressive infractions into context.
Saying that her actions were "indefensible" in her first interview since the incidents occurred, Lambert, 20, told the Times that she still "deeply regrets it and will always regret it and will carry it through the rest of my life not to retaliate."
The junior defender 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.
Lambert's actions brought unprecedented — and very unwanted — attention to the Mountain West women's soccer tournament this fall. New Mexico lost to BYU 1-0.
Video highlights have been airing nationally.
Lambert said that she has watched the YouTube clip several times and "does not recognize herself" acting the way she did.
Photo: Elizabeth Lambert.
Still, Lambert makes no apologies for much of the aggressive play that viewers took note of, saying that forceful movement is routine in the sport, and that some of her actions "were misinterpreted or taken out of context on a condensed video," according to the Times.
"I definitely feel because I am a female it did bring about a lot more attention than if a male were to do it," Lambert said to the paper. "It's more expected for men to go out there and be rough. The female, we're still looked at as, oh, we kick the ball around and score a goal. But it's not. We train very hard to reach the highest level we can get to. The physical aspect has maybe increased over the years. I'm not saying it's for the bad or it's been too overly aggressive. It's a game. Sports are physical."
New Mexico moved quickly to announce that Lambert has been suspended indefinitely. The Mountain West followed with a statement commending the New Mexico 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 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.
"I think the way the video came out, it did make me look like a monster. That's not the type of player I am. I'm not just out there trying to hurt players. That's taking away from the beauty of the game. And I would never want to do that," Lambert said to the Times.
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