Nov. 5, 2008
LAS VEGAS - Fifth-seeded UNLV Rebels (11-5-3) overcame an injury to its top scorer and won a penalty-kick shootout against the fourth-seeded New Mexico Lobos (8-5-6) on Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the 2008 Mountain West Conference Women's Soccer Tournament from Peter Johann Field. Though the match is officially recorded as a draw, the host Rebels advanced to the semifinals for the sixth straight year, and will meet top-seeded BYU on Thursday at 3 pm in a contest that will be nationally televised by The Mtn.
The game was tight though the first half, with UNLV holding an 8-5 edge on shots, but neither team would find the back of the net. Thirty-five minutes into the contest, UNLV's Ashleigh Shoughro, the MWC's second-leading scorer (28 points) injured her ankle, and was lost for the rest of the game.
UNLV freshman Jenna Larkin, who had made just five appearances during the regular season, broke a scoreless tie in the 57th minute to put UNLV up 1-0. Not only was the score the first of her career, but was on just her second shot of the season. Larkin, who started the second half in relief of Shoughro, received a through pass from Niki Connolly on the left side and managed to squeeze the shot between UNM goalkeeper Shannon Adragna's legs and into the goal. Connolly was credited with an assist on the score.
New Mexico evened the game at 1-1 on Alexis Ball's free kick from 35-yards in the 71st minute (70:10). Ball, who was initially fouled, blasted a shot high toward the Rebel goal. Lugo got her hands on the ball to stop its momentum, but was unable to prevent it from crossing the line.
Though UNLV would outshot the Lobos 7-4 in the two overtime periods, including 4-0 in the first 10 minutes, a second goal would not be scored by either team, sending the game to the PK shootout. UNLV got an early advantage when Jessica Quador pushed her kick to the left side, while Brie Kuhne buried her shot to put the Rebels up 1-0. After Jennifer Williams and Chelsea Green each made shots in the next round, Rebel goalkeeper Alicia Lugo blocked UNM's third round shot by Alexis Ball. Shannon Hughes made her shot for UNLV, putting the Rebels up 3-1.
The Lobos still had a chance, as Hannah Hand converted her PK while Dani Morin's shot was blocked, giving the Rebels a 3-2 edge going into the fifth round. Once again, Lugo would make a block on a Lobo shot, this time on Nicole Reed's PK attempt, giving UNLV the 3-2 shootout win. The win moved Lugo's all-time record in MWC PK shootouts to 3-0, as she won two in UNLV's run to the 2006 MWC tournament title.
Overall, UNLV outshot New Mexico by a 20-to-13 margin, with both having six shots on goal. Lugo saved three shots, while Adragna had five.