2008 Year In Review
Feb. 26, 2009
LAS VEGAS - Behind the play of stellar newcomer Ashleigh Shoughro, the Rebels began the 2008 season with one of the best starts in school history, posting a 6-1-1 record over the first eight games season. UNLV would also earn the first-ever top 25 ranking in school history, with a 25th place ranking in the Sept. 16 Soccer America poll.
Injuries hit the Rebels midseason that would change up the lineup, and UNLV would play several tight road contests before falling just short, suffering at one point three straight one-goal losses on the road. UNLV would finish the regular season with an 11-6-2 record, and entered the MWC tournament in Las Vegas as the fifth seed. After holding off New Mexico in a PK shootout 3-2, UNLV then faced top seed BYU, and would fall to the eventual tournament champions by a 4-0 score.
The season started out with a pair of games in California, and UNLV showed it would be a competitive team right from the start, earning a tie at Loyola Marymount in the first game, and followed that with a 2-0 win at UC Irvine. Sparking the Rebels in the two games was Shoughro, a Las Vegas native who transferred after one year at San Diego. She would actually score a goal in the first three contests of the year, with her first goal in the Rebels' third game sparking a 5-1 rout of in-state rival Nevada, Reno. UNLV followed that with a 1-0 win the next day over Pacific to give the Rebels a 2-0 record in the UNLV Nike Classic.
UNLV then returned to California for a pair of games, and after falling at Cal State Northridge by a 2-1 score, the Rebels earned a split of the trip with an impressive 1-0 shutout of Long Beach State off a penalty kick goal Shannon Hughes.
The win streak would increase to three games thanks to a pair of wins in the UNM Nike Classic in Albuquerque. Shoughro scored the lone goal of the game late in a 1-0 win over Farleigh Dickinson, and then in the second game of the tournament, senior defender Brie Kuhne headed in a golden goal to give the Rebels a 2-1 upset over No. 24 Milwaukee. That win would push UNLV into the top 25 for the first time ever.
Unfortunately, UNLV's time in the national spotlight was to be short-lived, as the Rebels suffered a very disappointing loss to Robert Morris by a 2-1 score, even though it outshot the visitors by a 35-3 margin in the contest. The team would bounce back by winning its next two games by a combined 7-1 score over Niagara and Northern Colorado. The Rebels then closed out non-conference action with another California contest, and would suffer a 3-2 loss at the hands of UC Riverside.
Shoughro and senior Haley Partridge both scored goals to give the Rebels a 2-1 victory in a nationally televised contest in their Mountain West Conference season opener at San Diego State. Following that was a trip to the Beehive state, and UNLV's offense would struggle, scoring just once in a pair of losses to BYU and Utah. The Rebels played themselves back into the conference race with a pair of blowout wins over Wyoming and Air Force by a combined 7-1 score, and then claimed a double-overtime tie at TCU to put them in good shape for a top seed in the MWC tournament. However, the Rebels would suffer a Senior Day upset at the hands of New Mexico, sending them to the fifth seed.
UNLV would gain revenge over the Lobos, winning its third straight PK shootout in MWC Tournament history after the Lobos tied the game late to force overtime. Goalkeeper Alicia Lugo, who would be named all-conference for the first time in her career, came up big in the shootout as she blocked two of the Lobos attempts. However, Shoughro badly turned her ankle during the game, and would be forced to miss the semifinal contest with regular season champion BYU. The loss of their top offensive threat was too much to overcome for UNLV, and they would end the season with an 11-7-3 record, the sixth time the team has reached 10 wins or more in the 11-year history of the program.
Shoughro would finish the year setting several UNLV marks in her first year as a Rebel, as she scored 28 points during the season, topping the previous UNLV single season record of 25, set by Annii Magliulo in 2002. Her 11 goals also tied the school single season record, held by both Magliulo (2002) and Anita Pedford (2001). For her play, she became the second Rebel to be named all-region by both Soccer Buzz (third team) and the NSCAA (third team). She was also a first-team all-conference selection, and earned one weekly nation honor, from Soccer Buzz. Other offensive stars during the season included juniors Brianna Moore and Niki Connolly, who finished with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Also honored during the season was Lugo and Kuhne, both named to the All-MWC second team. It was the third all-conference honor for Kuhne in her career.
While the Rebels didn't finish their goal of winning a conference championship for the fifth straight year, they are encouraged by the fact that they lost only two seniors to graduation, and will bring back the rest of the team to compete for the 2009 MWC championship.