Rebels Sign Nine To National Letters of Intent|
Feb. 12, 2018
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - UNLV Women's Soccer has inked nine new members as head coach Chris Shaw signed his 2018 class on Wednesday's National Signing Day. The Rebels will be reloading after losing five seniors to graduation from the 2017 squad, including All-Conference First Team performers Chidera Akubuilo and Sophie Cortes as well as four-year keeper Jordan Sallee, so the new group will have an opportunity to step in and make an immediate impact.
The class includes three local signees from Las Vegas, five from California and one from Hawaii. The signees are Haley Chitwood, Taylor Clark, Brianna Diaz, Jordan Goolsby, Hevani Haunga, Mimi Mendoza, Izzy Perez, Alyssa Vigallon and Catalina Villegas.
Shaw sees a talented class that can fill needed positions right away and provide depth at others.
"Our incoming 2018 class is full of very talented and hard working student-athletes," said Shaw. "They are all committed to helping UNLV women's soccer become the top program in the Mountain West Conference on a yearly basis. They all come from high level youth soccer backgrounds and have all enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, both at the club and high school levels.
We feel that we have filled the positions that needed to be prioritized for this recruiting class and have added massive depth at several other positions. We really like the mix of some highly talented local players with some of the best players California had to offer. It's also fantastic to bring in another big time Hawaiian player back into our program. Without a doubt, we believe that this group of individuals will contribute immediately as we strive for another Mountain West Conference Championship in the fall of 2018."
Chitwood, a defender from Fremont, California, is a four-year member of the varsity soccer team at John F. Kennedy High School under her mother, Michelle Chitwood, who is the head coach of the Titans. During her prep career, Chitwood and the Titans have twice reached the state playoffs and are currently 7-2-1 and tied for second in the North Coast Section league. As a freshman in 2014-15, she was named a second team all-league selection, then earned first team honors as a sophomore in 2015-16 and a junior in 2016-17. Last season she was also a runner up for the conference's player of the year award and is a three-time scholar-athlete selection. She played club soccer for the Palo Alto Soccer Club in 2015 and 2017. Chitwood plans on majoring in special education at UNLV.
Shaw on Chitwood: "We were able to identify Haley early in the recruiting process. Since her commitment to UNLV, she has continued to get better and better. A technically proficient outside back with an advanced tactical understanding of the game, Haley has the ability to be heavily involved in the attacking side of the game while also handling her defensive responsibilities. We are very keen on players who want the ball and Haley is exactly that type of player."
Clark, one of four signees from Las Vegas, attended Clark High School and was a midfielder on the varsity soccer team in 2017 under head coach Liz Case. The midfielder also played for the Players Soccer Club from 2006-2018, winning a state championship and earning the club's most valuable player award during her career. She participated in the Nevada Olympic Development Program (ODP) from 2011-2016 and was a member of the Heat FC club in Las Vegas from 2013-18. The Las Vegas local was named the most valuable player of her high school team and was a 2017 All-State Academic Team selection this fall.
Shaw on Clark: "Taylor is truly a midfielder that fits our style and the way we want to play at UNLV. To be able to keep her home to play her college soccer in Las Vegas was a major priority for us. Not only is she super confident and comfortable on the ball, she also is a presence every time she steps on the field and plays. She has good size, good mobility, is really good in the air, and is hard in the tackle. Taylor has all the attributes you look for in a quality D1 soccer midfielder."
The forward from Fullerton, California, is a four-year varsity soccer letterwinner at Troy High School, where she has helped the Warriors to three straight undefeated seasons and three league titles. Diaz is a three-time all-league selection and was named the Freeway League's Most Valuable Player. She plays club soccer for the So Cal Blues Soccer Club out of Laguna, California, under head coach Ben Helm. Diaz plans on majoring in psychology at UNLV.
Shaw on Diaz: "Brianna comes to our program from the So Cal Blues Soccer Club, considered by many as one of the top girls clubs in the country. She has played for some great coaches and in a lot of very high level soccer matches throughout her youth career and we know that being in one of the most competitive playing environments in the country will help her with her transition to the collegiate game. She is a gifted soccer player, who is extremely technical and very tactically aware on the field. She will fit in very well with our style of play."
Another Las Vegas product, Goolsby attended Centennial High School, Trinity International and Somerset Academy during her prep career. As a senior in 2017, she was named her team's Defensive Player of the Year and was an All-Sunrise Second Team selection. The versatile local standout can play defense, midfield and forward. She will major in psychology in UNLV.
Haunga, a Hawaiian native, was a four-year varsity soccer letterwinner at Kamehameha High School under Joshua Woodward. Over her career, the forward earned all-league first team and honorable mention honors and was the league's leading scorer as a sophomore in 2015. Haunga played for the Hawaii state ODP team and the SC Del Sol Soccer Club team in 2014 and 2015 and is currently a member of the Surf Hawaii Soccer Club. She plans on majoring in business at UNLV.
Shaw on Goolsby: "We are really excited about what Hevani brings to our program and can't wait to get to work with her. She is a strong, powerful forward that is fearless in the attack. She will pick up balls and run at defenders and is very tough to dispossess. She will also work defensively, which in turn will create even more opportunities for herself and her teammates in the attack. Hevani definitely has the potential to be make an immediate impact for our program."
Nohemi "Mimi" Mendoza
Mendoza, whose full name is Nohemi but goes by Mimi, is another Las Vegas native staying in the valley to play for the hometown team. The forward attended West Preparatory Academy and spent the majority of her prep career playing on the club circuit. Locally, she was a member of the Heat FC and also played with the USA Youth National Team in 2016. She is undecided on her major.
Shaw on Mendoza: "Mimi is a super talented local player that has been with the USA Youth National teams on multiple occasions. We are so excited to keep her in Las Vegas and we can't wait for her to be able to represent and play for UNLV. A silky-smooth, attack-minded player, Mimi possesses so many high end soccer qualities that will translate into immediate success at the D1 level. She has the ability to play central or out wide, Mimi is the type of player that wants to be on the ball and has the ability to do something magical with each touch of the ball. We fully expect Mimi to make an immediate impact for our program and we can't wait to welcome her on campus."
Perez will come to Las Vegas from Granite Bay, California, where she was a three-year letterwinner at Granite Bay High School. The forward helped the Grizzlies to a 33-15-11 record over three years, which included a league championship and back-to-back appearances in the NSC state playoffs. Perez also earned all-league honors once during her career. She played her club ball for Mustang Soccer Club, where her team was ranked fifth in the nation in her age group, and was also member of the California ODP team. She plans on majoring in kinesiology at UNLV.
Vigallon will join the Rebels from Castro Valley, California. She is a four-year letterwinner on the varsity soccer team at Castro Valley High School and helped the Trojans earn one conference championship as a freshman in 2014-15 and reach the playoffs the following two years as a sophomore and junior. Her senior season will take place this spring. The midfielder has earned league honors three consecutive years, garnering an honorable mention nod as a freshman, a second team all-league selection as a sophomore and a first team all-league selection last year as a junior. She has been a member of the Mustang Soccer Club since 2013 along with fellow signee Izzy Perez. Vigallon plans on majoring in Kinesiology at UNLV.
The Clovis, California, native is a four-year letterwinner at Clovis East High School, where she has helped the Timberwolves earn a conference championship as a sophomore in 2015-16 and a trip to the divisional semifinals as a junior last year. Currently, the Timberwolves are 5-8 under new head coach Tony Badella. The midfielder is a two-time team captain and a three-time all-league first team selection. She was named her team's most valuable offensive player twice and was in the top five in points in the conference with 31 as a sophomore in 2015-16. Villegas as been a midfielder for the California Odyssey Soccer Club since 2014 and most recently played for the Fresno Freeze amateur women's soccer club this year. She plans on majoring in journalism and media studies at UNLV.
The Rebels will release their spring schedule in the coming weeks.