2009 Year In Review
Feb. 24, 2010
LAS VEGAS - Behind the leadership of seven seniors, the 2009 UNLV Rebels set out to play arguably the toughest schedule in program history. UNLV faced teams from the strongest soccer conferences around the nation, taking on opponents from the ACC, Big 10, Pac 10, West Coast and the Big West conferences. On the way to a 5-9-5 finish the Rebels faced six eventual NCAA Tournament teams, and the season was highlighted by an impressive trip to the state of North Carolina where they earned a 1-0 win over North Carolina State and a 0-0 double-overtime tie with ACC powerhouse and 24th-ranked Duke.
Several underclassmen would step up and lead the way offensively for the Rebels, after injuries hindered 2008 leading goal scorer, forward Ashleigh Shoughro, for most of the season. Sophomore forward Jenna Larkin led the team in scoring with three goals, and stand-out freshman Colette Jepson would finish the season second in points with two goals and two assists. Senior midfielder Shannon Hughes contributed two goals on the season, both of which were game-winners, as well as dishing out two assists. Senior goalkeeper Alicia Lugo proved to be stellar yet again, finishing the 2009 season as the Mountain West Conference's all- time leader in career saves with 329.
After a successful exhibition match that saw the Rebels win 4-0 against Dixie State, UNLV opened up the regular season at home with a tough 2-0 loss to Loyola Marymount.
UNLV would be stronger the next weekend when it hosted the UNLV Nike Classic. The Rebels earned a 1-1 double overtime tie with eventual NCAA Tournament participant Illinois State, thanks to a goal from Jepson. In the second game of the weekend, the seniors would lead the way as the Rebels nabbed their first win of the season, a 2-1 victory over Cal State Bakersfield. Jamie McCoy and Hughes both posted goals in the win.
The Rebels would make their longest trip of the season next, traveling to the state of North Carolina for the first time in program history to take on ACC members North Carolina State and No. 24 Duke. Once again the seniors led the way as Shannon Hughes scored the game-winning goal to give UNLV a 1-0 victory over head coach Kat Mertz's alma mater. UNLV then traveled to Durham, N.C., where it earned an impressive 0-0 double overtime tie with No. 24 Duke. Lugo recorded her 21st career shutout and the successful weekend improved UNLV's unbeaten streak to four games.
After returning home from the North Carolina trip, UNLV faced a tough mid-week home match against Big Ten power Ohio State. Jepson and Larkin each scored goals as the hard fought game was tied 2-2 and went into overtime. Despite equal amounts of chances to score, Ohio State found the back of the net in the last minute of overtime to give the eventual NCAA Tournament participants the 3-2 win, snapping UNLV's unbeaten streak.
After the heartbreaking loss to Ohio State, UNLV stayed home to host a game against UC Irvine. Despite a goal from junior Amanda Forrester, the Rebels played their third straight overtime game, which eventually ended in a 1-1 tie.
UNLV then traveled to northern California to take on two WCC teams, San Francisco and St. Mary's. The Rebels again finished with an overtime tie, this time a 0-0 result with San Francisco, and fell 1-0 to St. Mary's in the second game.
The team returned home for a short time to host Southern Utah in a Saturday afternoon contest on Sept. 26. Senior Brianna Moore and Larkin each scored goals to give the Rebels the 2-0 win. To close out the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Rebels traveled to San Diego, Calif., to compete in the San Diego State Classic. In the first game of the tournament, Larkin came to the rescue once again, scoring in the last minute of the match to give UNLV a 2-1 win over Seattle University. Up next was Pac 10 member and eventual NCAA tournament participant Oregon State. Despite playing well, the Rebels dropped the match by a score of 3-0.
Just like the previous few years, UNLV opened up conference play with a pair of games against conference foes Utah and No. 9 BYU. The Rebels dropped the match at home to the Utes by a close score of 1-0. No. 9 BYU traveled to Las Vegas next, and despite holding the Cougars to only four shots on goal, the Rebels would suffer a second straight 1-0 decision to a team that would be the eventual MWC champion and a NCAA tournament participant.
Looking for its' first win of conference UNLV traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo., to take on Air Force. Thanks to senior Kelly Labor's first career goal, the Rebels secured the victory, making them 1-2 in MWC play. UNLV would stay on the road and traveled to Laramie, Wyo., to face the Wyoming Cowgirls. Shoughro tallied her first goal of the season and UNLV would come away with a 1-1 double-overtime tie.
The Rebels returned home for their next set of conference matchups, hosting TCU and eventual NCAA tournament participant and MWC tournament champion San Diego State. Shoughro scored for the second straight match and Moore added a beautiful goal against TCU to tie the game at 2-2. The Horned Frogs would come up with a golden goal though to steal a 3-2 victory in overtime. Recovering from the heartbreaking loss on Friday night, UNLV took on San Diego State on Senior Day. The Rebels would suffer another close loss as San Diego State topped them with a 1-0 score.
To close out its conference schedule, UNLV and its seven seniors hit the road one last time to take on New Mexico. Coming in to the game Lugo was closely chasing the conference all-time career saves mark. The senior would make nine saves in the Rebels' 2-0 loss to the Lobos to set the conference record.
Though they fell just two points shy of the conference tournament, several players received conference accolades. Lugo and Moore were each named second team all-conference selections. It was the second consecutive honor for Lugo, as she was named to the second team in 2008. Lugo led the conference in saves per game with 5.26 and posted five shutouts. It was the first career honor for Moore, who started all 19 games for the Rebels and finished the season with two goals for four points.
After facing the toughest schedule in UNLV history, the Rebels said good-bye to seven seniors from this years' squad: Labor, Hughes, Moore McCoy, four-year starting defenders Mack Neely and Dani Morin, as well as Lugo.