Aug. 29, 2002
Four years have past and the UNLV women's soccer program is still on the move and upward bound. Entering its fifth-year anniversary of the program, the Rebels look to climb to the top of the Mountain West Conference and accomplish their ultimate goal of capturing a league title and an NCAA Tournament berth.
Picked to finish third in a preseason conference coaches poll, the team's highest preseason ranking since joining the MWC in 1999, the Rebels have a winning combination of experience, youth and leadership to take them through the 2002 season.
Under third-year head coach Dan Abdalla, the Rebels made a successful attempt of this in 2001 with a school record 12 victories, a first time appearance in the conference championship game, a first time win against league rival Utah and postseason consideration as a bubble team. UNLV also spent 11 days touring Europe (Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands) which gave the team the opportunity to bond, sightsee and play against the best teams in the world.
Fifteen starters return from last year's squad along with a pair of All-MWC second team selections and six promising freshmen newcomers.
"We have improved and met every goal we have set in the last two years," Abdalla said. "Now, it's time to reap the fruits of those efforts."
The Rebels will have to fill a big hole up front with the graduation of UNLV's all-time leading scorer Anita Pedford. There is no one particular go-to player, but the chemistry of returning sophomore Annii Magliulo (Pengrove, Calif.), senior Cosette (Joffs) Packer (Henderson, Nev.) and junior Erin Egertson (Mission Viejo, Calif.) should provide a solid front line and big contribution up top. Freshmen Nickie Olson (Las Vegas) and Angie Inzana (Littleton, Colo.) will split their time in the front and midfield and vie for time this season.
Senior Cristyn Enea (San Ramon, Calif.), an All-MWC second team selection in 2001, is UNLV's top returning player. Enea tied Pedford as the team's leading scorer last year with 24 points and will look to do the same. Junior Rachael Buscovich (Santa Rosa, Calif.) will also bring great leadership and veteran experience in the midfield. The outside players, redshirt freshman Michelle Cowles (Littleton, Colo.), sophomore Blynnda Bascones (Las Vegas) and senior Kelly Janke (Bellflower, Calif.), will also make a huge contribution. Sophomore Jenny Ruiz (Corona, Calif.), the Dark Horse of the group, will complete the center park. Also, sophomore Jessica Vazquez (Las Vegas) is coming off a great spring and will make an immediate impact as well as newcomer Jessica Brown (Las Vegas).
Junior Tania Lee (Thornton, Colo.), one of the top defenders on the West Coast and in the league, returns to a solid backline which includes senior Shannon Fredrickson (Williamsville, N.Y.) and sophomores Codi Schumaker (Torrance, Calif.) and Lindsay Fordon (Clayton, Calif.). Fredrickson is back healthy and brings athleticism in the central back, while Schumaker and Fordon have become more athletic and quicker than in the past. With the graduation of the school's top defender Marni Polakow, Abdalla has found her predecessor in freshman Emily Marcouiller (Marietta, Ga.), who will vie for time this season.
The Rebels return sophomore goalkeeper Desiree Kelly (Virginia Beach, Va.), who posted two shutouts and an impressive 0.33 GAA last year as a rookie. The experience she gained during UNLV's Europe trip should help her this season in goal. Rookies Jenna Huff (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Laura Kissock (Albuquerque, N.M.) will push and challenge her for the starting spot.
The 2002 schedule includes a good mix of opponents, including consistent NCAA Tournament teams and perennial powers. Every game will be winnable for the Rebels. The season opener at Kansas will be an early measuring stick for what the year can bring. Later dates with non-conference opponents Arizona State, Cal Poly, Montana, Houston and Fresno State will prove challenging, before the Rebels peak for conference and postseason play.