Year In Review: Rebels Thrive Under Klein
March 2, 2011
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - There was a lot of uncertainty entering the 2010 season for the UNLV women's soccer team. Already coming off a five-win season, the Rebels would have to play for a new head coach after Kat Mertz left for a job after five years for Texas. The good news, however, is that it was a familiar face that took over at the helm of the program. Jennifer Klein was named the fourth head women's soccer coach in UNLV history in June after two years as an assistant on the coaching staff. The youngest women's soccer head coach in the nation, Klein turned out to be just what the Rebels needed to turn around the program and regain its winning tradition.
Another positive the Rebels had going in their favor was the return of a healthy Ashleigh Shoughro to the squad. After recording a school-record 28 points during her sophomore season in 2008, during which the Rebels won 11 games (11-7-3), Shoughro was plagued by injuries throughout her junior year. That led to just five total points and only two goals from the team's top offensive threat. Klein knew that for the Rebels to have a successful season, getting Shoughro back to her previous form was key. But she knew that just as important was improving the team's chemistry on the field, especially with the offense, as UNLV had managed only 15 goals in 2009, the lowest in school history.
Well, after her first year at the helm of the Rebels, it can be considered mission accomplished for the recovery of the Rebels on offense. Thanks to a run of goals by Shoughro at the start (six in the first three games), UNLV jumped out to its best start in school history at 5-1. UNLV scored four or more goals three times in the first six games, including a 4-2 win against Colorado and a 1-0 home victory over Oregon. The Rebels would finish the season scoring a school-record 38 goals, while Shoughro shattered several season and career records.
The season started at UC Riverside and the Rebels started a freshman in goal for the first time in school history. Having turned 17 just a day before, Kylie Wassell showed she was up to the task of being the Rebels' starting netminder, stopping seven shots to earn UNLV a 1-0 win on Aug. 20. That performance also earned Wassell MWC Player of the Week honors.
The Rebels then returned home to host the Las Vegas Invitational, and blew away the competition to improve to 3-0. Shoughro set a school record with four goals in a 5-2 win over Albany (Aug. 27), and added two more in a 4-0 win at Louisiana-Monroe (Aug. 29) in the second game of the weekend. Her six-goal weekend was rewarded with her first MWC Player of the Week mention of the season.
The next weekend saw UNLV suffer its first loss of the year, 2-1 against Drake (Sept. 4), but the Rebels rebounded to post a two-goal win over Colorado (Sept. 6) in the second game of the Denver Invitational. The squad returned home to host the UNLV Nike Classic and opened that two-game event with a 1-0 victory over Oregon (Sept. 10). Two tough losses followed - one-goal setbacks to Cal State Northridge (Sept. 12) and Long Beach State (Sept. 17) - before the Rebels bounced back with a 2-1 win over UC Davis (Sept. 19) to complete play in the UNLV Rebel Classic.
The next weekend also marked the end of non-conference play for UNLV and the Rebels made sure to end on a winning note with two straight shutouts in the Air Force Invitational, 5-0 over VMI on Sept. 24, and 1-0 over Weber State on Sept. 26. The back-to-back wins earned two Rebels weekly MWC awards, as Shoughro was the Offensive Player of the Week and Caitlin Allen Defensive Player of the Week.
The momentum from the win streak did not carry over into the start of Mountain West Conference play, as the Rebels suffered two straight losses to begin the league season - at home to New Mexico and at TCU. UNLV would rebound with a 3-2 win over Wyoming (Oct. 14) thanks to a game-winner from Shoughro (which also led to another MWC weekly honor), and the Rebels added a 3-0 victory over Air Force (Oct. 16).
Next up was the final matchup with BYU as MWC rivals and the Rebels nearly pulled off a big upset. Macy Jo Harrison posted an early goal before the 13th-ranked Cougars tied the score just before the end of the first half. Despite being outshot by a large margin, Wassell would not allow another goal, and UNLV would come out of Provo with a 1-1 tie, which assured it a spot in the conference tournament.
The Rebels dropped their final two games of the regular season, both on the road, and entered the MWC Tournament in San Diego as the fifth seed after finishing with seven points in conference play. UNLV opened up the tournament against fourth-seeded Utah, and gained revenge for the regular-season loss with an impressive 4-1 victory. That put the Rebels into the semifinals against New Mexico, and UNLV nearly pulled off the upset in a game similar to the tie against BYU. As they did against the Cougars, the Rebels went ahead early on a Caitlin Allen header in the 11th minute. New Mexico would tie the game in the final minute of the first half, however, and the contest would go into double-overtime. Minutes away from a possible penalty kick shootout situation, in which UNLV has traditionally dominated in MWC tournament history, the Rebels instead saw their season end when the Lobos scored a golden goal in the 106th minute. For advancing to the semifinals, the Rebels landed two on the all-tournament team - Shoughro and Allen.
Despite the semifinal loss, there's no doubt the season was a success as UNLV doubled its win total from the previous year, finishing at 11-8-1. Individually, Shoughro left UNLV with her name all over the record book. She finished the season with 31 points, breaking her own previous school record of 28, while her 14 goals was also a school record, breaking the previous mark of 11 held by her and two other players. She finished her career with 64 points in just three seasons, ranking her fourth all-time at UNLV, while her 27 goals broke the previous record of 25 held by Annii Magliulo and Anita Pedford.
Shoughro also became the first Rebel to earn all-region honors in two different seasons as she was named second team All-Pacific, and the second-team honor was the highest ever by a Rebel. She was named First Team All-Mountain West Conference as well, while senior Amanda Forrester was a second team selection after finishing second on the team with a career-high 16 points (six goals, four assists). Also finishing in double-figures for points in the season was Colette Jepson with 15 (six goals, three assists) and Macy Jo Harrison (four goals, four assists). Wassell finished the season with a 1.45 GAA and 73 saves in goal, and added three solo shutouts. Other awards during the season included the Rebels receiving the 2010 NSCAA Team Academic Award for having a total team GPA of at least a 3.0. Allen also was named Academic All-District third team.