Marquee Matchup Begins Conference Play|
Oct. 3, 2006
LAS VEGAS -
2005 MWC Regular Season, Tournament Champions Face Off UNLV, defending Mountain West Conference Tournament champions, and No. 19 Utah, defending MWC regular season champions, will kick off the 2006 MWC season on Thursday afternoon with a 2 pm (PST) contest in Salt Lake City. Not only is the game the first conference game of the season for any team, it will also be the first "Soccer Insider" show broadcast by the new MountainWest Sports Network (the mtn.). Highlights of the match, as well as coverage of the two teams during the week building up to the game will be show on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 4 pm PST.
The game is key to both teams, as UNLV looks to even its overall record at .500, while Utah will want a win before facing 15th ranked BYU at home on Saturday. Following the game, UNLV will next play at San Diego State, a team the Rebels have won five straight against, on Sunday afternoon. The last meeting between the two was in the MWC semifinals last year, when UNLV rallied from down 1-0 by scoring two goals in the final five minutes of the game to shock the Aztecs with a 2-1 overtime victory.
Players to watch For the third straight year, junior forward Katie Carney continues to lead the team in scoring, and in fact is tied for four in the Mountain West Conference in points with nine, and and fifth in goals with three. Senior midfielder Tanya Roberts, a first-team all-MWC pick in 2005, has three assists and scored the game-winner against both Creighton in the Blue Jay Classic, and against 20th-ranked Pepperdine in a 1-0 overtime upset victory. Other strong threats on offense including junior forwards Armani Rice (three goals, one assist, seven points) and Jessica Destito (two goal, three assists, seven points).
In goal, sophomore Ciera Nero has emerged as the starting keeper, and has posted three shutouts in her last four outings. For the year, she has a 1.04 GAA with 27 saves and four shutouts.
Last time out
Tanya Roberts scored her second game-winner in three games, this time on a header in the second overtime to give the Rebels a 1-0 victory over Pepperdine on Sunday afternoon from Peter Johann Memorial Field. The Rebels had the momentum in the first half, taking several close shots at the goal that either hit the crossbar or were saved by Pepperdine goalie Kayla Stolte. In the second half, the Waves were the ones that had the best chances to score, earning two free kicks just outside the box they were unable to convert on.
In overtime, it was UNLV once again making the moves on offense, and they in fact held a 3-0 edge on shots over both overtime periods. The winning score came in the 107th minute following a Pepperdine foul just past midfield. Dani Davis took the free kick and sent a perfect ball into the middle of the box, where Roberts jumped up and headed the ball to the right corner for the golden goal.
UNLV finished with a 14-9 edge on shots, and 5-4 edge on corner kicks. Ciera Nero finished with two saves in goal to earn her third shutout in four games while Stolte was credited with three saves.
Scouting the Utes
Utah brings in a three-game win streak and a No. 19 national ranking into the conference season opener with the Rebels. The three wins for the Utes came over Pepperdine, Utah State ,and Idaho State, following a three-game losing streak to Purdue, Illinois, and Idaho State.
Leading the team is Adele Letro with 11 points on four goals and three assists. Amanda Feight is second with four assists and two goals, while Melissa Wayman and Hailey Marsh both have five points each. Ashley Mason is posting a 1.29 GAA with 32 saves and two shutouts as the Ute's starting goalkeeper.
Scouting the Aztecs
San Diego State was picked to finish third in the MWC preseason poll, but have struggled on offense this season. The Aztecs have been shutout in seven games this year thus far, including three straight and in five of their last six games. In fact, after scoring six goals over the first two games of the year, SDSU has scored just five goals over the next nine games. The Aztecs are in the midst of a three-game road losing streak, falling 3-0 at Cal Poly, 1-0 at Pepperdine, and 4-0 at Stanford.
Erika Sutton leads the team with 10 points off three goals and a team-high four assists, while Jen Mello is tied for the team lead in goals with three. Cat Walker has two goals, while three more Aztecs have one goal each. In goal is Cat Burson, who is posting a 1.48 GAA with 49 saves in 973 minutes of action. MWC Player of the Week honors
Junior defender Ashly O'Harrow was named MWC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 5, after helping the Rebels post back-to-back shutouts in the UNLV adidas Classic in a 3-0 win over UC Irvine and a 7-0 win over Oakland. She helped UNLV limit the teams to an average of eight shots over both games. Sophomore goalkeeper Ciera Nero was named Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 25, after posting back-to-back shutouts over North Dakota State and Creighton to lead UNLV to the Blue Jay Classic championships, and averaged 4.5 saves over the two wins. Senior midfielder Tanya Roberts became the first Rebel to win Offensive Player of the Week honors, as her second game-winning goal in three games gave UNLV a 1-0 win over 20th ranked Pepperdine in double-overtime on Oct. 1.
History in the Ranking
The Rebels claimed their first-ever win over a ranked team on Sunday, as Tanya Roberts headed in a free kick from Dani Davis in the 107th minute of the second overtime to lift UNLV to a 1-0 win over Pepperdine, ranked 20th by Soccer American, and 27th by Soccer Buzz.
Solid in Goal
Sophomore Ciera Nero has emerged from a two-way battle for the starting goalkeeper spot with her performance over the past two weekends. Starting with the Rebels' 1-0 win over North Dakota State, Nero has posted three shutouts in the past four games, and allowed just one goal in a 1-0 loss at Arizona State. She was named MWC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 25, and is boasting a 1.04 GAA with four shutouts.