Rebels Play For MWC Championship Saturday
UNLV plays in its second straight MWC Tournament championship game on Saturday against Utah.
UNLV plays in its second straight MWC Tournament championship game on Saturday against Utah.

Nov. 3, 2006


UNLV women's soccer MWC championship notes
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Rebels one upset away from third-straight NCAA Appearance
For the second straight year the UNLV Rebels are playing in the Mountain West Tournament championship game, following a huge upset in the semifinals when advanced past 19th-ranked BYU by winning a penalty kick shootout 4-1. The reward for that win is a matchup against top-seeded and 10th-ranked Utah on Saturday. For UNLV to win, it will have to beat a Ute team that has only lost once all year on its home field (2-1 to Colorado back on Sept. 10). The Rebels will also need to find offense against a team that did not allow a goal during the conference regular season, though Utah did give up a late goal to New Mexico in the semifinals on Thursday, before regrouping to score early in the first overtime to win 2-1 and advance to Saturday.

While Utah is playing for its third overall tournament title (2003, 2004), and a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Rebels come in knowing they must win Saturday's championship game to receive the MWC's automatic bid and advance to the NCAAs for the third straight year, after earning an at-large big in 2004 and winning last year's championship game 1-0 over New Mexico in overtime.

Though Utah claimed the earlier meeting between the two schools, 1-0 in Salt Lake City back on Oct. 5 on this very same field, the Rebels have showed new life in the conference tournament, as they have allready avenged two losses from the regular season. After losing to Wyoming 1-0 on its own Senior Day, UNLV handed the Cowgirls a 1-0 defeat in the MWC First Round. The Rebels then topped BYU in a penalty kick shootout 4-1 in the semifinals, just five days after falling in Provo 2-0 to the Cougars.

One difference between the first meeting for both teams will be UNLV's goalkeeper, as Alicia Lugo will be making the start. Any possible advantage Utah might have felt facing a freshman in goal, making just her seventh career start, was washed away watching her performance on Thursday, as Lugo not only earned a shutout against the Cougars, in the PK shootout she blocked BYU's first two attempts, helping the Rebels easily advance 4-1. The game against BYU was Lugo's first action since Sept. 17, and she has not played against a league opponent before entering the first half against Wyoming on Wednesday.

UNLV is 1-1 all-time in the MWC championship game, having fallen to BYU 2-1 in the 2001 tournament, and winning last year's title. Both games were played in Las Vegas. All-time, the Rebels are 7-5-2 in MWC Tournament play, while the Utes are 10-5-2.

Players to watch
As she has done for the past two years, junior forward Katie Carney is once again leading the Rebels in scoring, as her goal yesterday against Wyoming gave her four for the year, and her three assists gives her 11 points on the season. She is actually tied for the team lead with junior midfielder Armani Rice, who actually has a team-high five goals and one assist for 11 points. Rice also leads the team in game-winners with four, three of them coming in one-goal victories.

Junior forward Jessica Destito is second on the team with 10 points off three goals and four assists, while Carney is next on the team with nine points off three goals and three assissts. Another threat on offense is senior forward Tanya Roberts, who has two-game winners on the season, and for the year has nine points (three goals, three assists).

In goal, freshman Alicia Lugo has taken over the starting position after sophomore Ciera Nero suffered a right knee injury in the MWC First Round on Wednesday. Lugo made her first start in over six weeks in the semifinal game against BYU, and with the shutout she lowered her GAA to 0.89. She also has two shutouts on the year in six starts, and one shared shutout as well.

Semifinals, Championship games to be televised
For the first time, the semifinals of the MWC Tournament will be broadcast on TV, as the mtn. will show both games on Thursday live, at 3:30 pm (PST) and 6 pm (PST). Saturday's championship game will be shown by CSTV on same-day tape-delay at 8 pm (PST), and is also available live on the internet at

All Tournament Game Stats LIVE!!!!!!!!!
Live game stats will be available for all five MWC Tournament games this year over the internet. The game stats will be available via the Mountain West Conference's official website at

Last time out
Behind the stellar play of freshman goalkeeper Alicia Lugo, starting her first game in over six weeks, UNLV pulled off the surprise of the tournament, topping second-seed and 19th ranked BYU (13-2-4) in a penalty kick shootout 4-1 in the MWC semifinals on Thursday.

The game officially ended in a double-overtime scoreless tie, but the third-seeded Rebels advanced off the PK shootout win to play in their second straight MWC title game.

BYU controlled the flow of the game for the majority of the first half, and held a 12-5 edge on shots in the first half. The Rebels escaped what was almost a certain goal for BYU, when Cougar Alyssa Vander Veur unloaded a shot that caught Lugo out of position in the 35th minute, but Dani Davis was in position to make the team save on the goalline and keep the game scoreless.

UNLV started to enforce its offense move in the second half however, especially in the last 10 minutes. Both teams played strong defense in the two overtime periods, with UNLV getting off two shots in the first overtime, and one by BYU, while neither team recorded a shot in the second extra period, setting up the shootout situation.

UNLV's Katie Carney put the ball in the goal on the first penalty kick. Lugo then stoned BYU's Andrea Willis, but it was ruled that Lugo wasn't stationary when Willis made her kick, giving Willis a second attempt. Lugo then calmly knocked Willis' second shot down , giving the Rebels a 1-0 advantage.

UNLV's Brie Kuhne then scored over Cougar keeper Erika Woodbury. Lugo got a piece of Brooke Bowman's second shot, which went off the crossbar and the Rebels led 2-0 in the five-shot shootout. Both UNLV's Shannon Hughes and BYU's Katie Larkin scored in the third round of penalty kicks to make it, 3-1 in favor of UNLV.

Rebel team captain Tanya Roberts was the fourth UNLV player to enter the shootout. She put the ball past Woodbury's outstretched right hand, putting the Rebels into the championship game.

BYU finished the game with a 22-14 edge, though the Rebels owned a slight 9-8 edge on corner kicks. Lugo finished the game with four saves, while Woodbury was credited with five as both keepers earned a shutout

Scouting the Utes
Utah is currently in the midst of a school-record 11 game win streak, and nine of the wins were by shutout. The shutout streak was actually snapped in the Utes' semifinal game against New Mexico, with the Lobos tied the game late in the second half before Utah prevailed in overtime 2-1. It was the first goal given up by Utah to a MWC team this year, as the Utes had outscored its league opponents 15-0 in MWC regular season action.

Utah was also the top offensive team in the conference, and is paced by sophomore forward Adele Letro, named the MWC Offensive Player of the Year after leading the league in points with 25 and goals with 11 coming into Saturday's championship game. Senior forward Amanda Feigt meanwhile is tied for second in the league with 19 points, off six goals and seven assists. On the defense, the Utes have senior Ashley Mason in goal. The first-team all-conference goalkeeper was named MWC Defensive Player of the Year this week, and owns a 0.79 GAA with six shutouts on the year.

Freshman stands tall in goal
Making her first start in six weeks and facing the 19th-ranked BYU Cougars didn't faze freshman goalkeeper Alicia Lugo in the least. Taking over in goal for Ciera Nero, out for the season after suffering a knee injury against Wyoming in the MWC First Round, Lugo came up with four saves to keep the game scoreless and send it to the PK shootout. That is where Lugo really shinned, as she stopped BYU's first two PKs (in fact, she stopped three, as it was ruled she left early on the first one, but simply blocked the PK again after the restart). BYU finally connected on its third PK attempt, but UNLV made its first four attempts to win the shutout.

One streak does fall
While Thursday's semifinal game officially will go down as a tie, UNLV did break a streak against the Cougars, stopping its 10-game losing streak to BYU. This was the second time the teams had played in the MWC Tournament as well, with BYU winning the 2001 title in a 2-1 win. BYU still leads the all-time series 10-0-1.

Last second heroics
Katie Carney's game-winning goal with just two seconds left to beat Wyoming in yesterday's MWC First Round was not the first time this year UNLV has scored in the final seconds. The Rebels were down to their final chance against Oregon State earlier this season (Aug. 27), but with the clock counting down the final 10 seconds, Armani Rice emerged from a battle with possesion of the ball, and found sophomore Brie Kuhne all alone on the left side, and her shot crossed the goalline with just one second left in regulation to tie the game at 1-1. UNLV would end up escaping with the double-overtime tie on the score, the first in Kuhne's two-year career.

UNLV has now won or earned a tie in the final two minutes of regulation four times in the last two seasons, including three in the last 10 seconds. Last year, Ashly O'Harrow scored with nine seconds left in a 1-0 win at Wyoming (Oct. 9), while Tanya Roberts scored the tying goal with two minutes to play in a 2-1 overtime win over San Diego State in the MWC semifinals (Nov. 3).

Once again proving the coaches wrong
Three straight years, UNLV has proven the preseason predicitions wrong, as for the third straight year, the Rebels were picked the finish fourth in the preseason MWC coaches poll. UNLV has simply posted top-three finishes all three years, including winning the regular season championship in 2004, finishing second in 2005 and winning the MWC Tournament, and placing third in this year's regular season final standsings.

Carney is Sweet November
Taking a cue from Mr. October, Katie Carney knows how to show up in the month of November. The junior forward, who was selected as the 2005 MWC Tournament MVP after scoring two game-winners in UNLV's three tournament wins, including the lone goal in the overtime win over New Mexico in the championship game, added to that performance with her game-winner against Wyoming yesterday, giving her two straight game-winners in the last two MWC Tournament games, and three out of the last four for UNLV.

Carney named Academic All-District
Katie Carney is not limiting her excellence to just on the field, as the junior forward was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District second team, announced today. Carney boasts a 3.64 cumaltive GPA while majoring in broadcasting, and has made the Dean's list every semester at UNLV.

Four Rebels named All-Conference
For the second straight year, four Rebels were named to the All-Mountain West Conference teams. Sophomore defender Brie Kuhne was named to the first-team, while junior midfielder Erica Jensen, junior forward Armani Rice, and senior midfielder Tanya Roberts were all named second team. It was the first all-conference honors for Kuhne, Rice, and Jensen.

Senior midfielder Tanya Roberts has been one of the mainstays in the Rebel lineup during her four-year career at UNLV, and with Saturday's start, she set a new school record for most career games played at UNLV. Roberts currently is tied with Tania Lee with 81 career appearances, after starting all 21 contests this season. The 2006 MWC All-Conference Second Team selection is currently eighth in UNLV history in points with 28, tied for eighth in goals with nine, and tied for fifth in assists with 10.

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. Junior midfielder Armani Rice (Oct. 16) is the most recent Rebel to earn MWC weekly honors, after a pair of game-winners over New Mexico and TCU. Solid in Goal

Sophomore Ciera Nero has emerged from a two-way battle for the starting goalkeeper spot. Starting with the Rebels' 1-0 win over North Dakota State, Nero posted three shutouts in a four-game span, 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 1.13 GAA with six shutouts.

National Honors
Armani Rice is the first Rebel to earn national honors this season, as she was named to Top Drawer Soccer's national Team of the Week on Oct. 16 after an outstanding weekend performance. She scored two game-winners in a pair of one-goal victories in the final minutes of both victories. In a 1-0 overtime win over New Mexico on Oct. 13, she scored nine minutes into the first overtime, while she broke a 1-1 tie against TCU on Oct. 15 with a score in the final two minutes of the game.

History in the Ranking
The Rebels claimed their first-ever win over a ranked team on Oct. 1, 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.

Scoreless streak broken
UNLV broke its streak of 438 minutes without a goal with a quick score in the 4th minute of the game against North Dakota State in the first game of the Blue Jay Classic, on a goal by Armani Rice.

Rebels snap losing streak with back-to-back shutouts
The Rebels broke a four-game losing streak with back-to-back 1-0 shutout victories over North Dakota State (Sept. 22) and the host Creighton (Sept. 24) team to claim the Blue Jay Classic tournament title.

Blue Jay Classic Honors
Junior midfielder Erica Jensen was named the Blue Jay Classic Tournament MVP while leading UNLV to the tournament title with wins over NDSU and Creighton. Also named to the all-tournament team was Tanya Roberts, Jessica Destito, and Ciera Nero.

It's the Rebels by a Touchdown!!!
With UNLV's 7-0 rout of Oakland on Sept. 4, the Rebels posted their highest performance on offense in four years. The seven goals and the seven-goal win margin was the highest since the Rebels posted a 9-0 win over Nevada, Reno on Sept. 6, 2002.

Freshman class provides spark on offense
The freshman class came up strong on Monday against Oakland, scoring three of UNLV's seven goals, while also adding two assists. Finishing in the scoring was Brianna Moore (one goal), Shannon Hughes (one goal, one assist), and Niki Connolly (one goal, one assist).

All-Tournament Rebels
Three Rebels were named to the Cougar Classic all-tournament team. Forward Katie Carney, who scored UNLV's lone goal against Washington State (Aug. 25) on a penalty kick, was joined by Tanya Roberts and Ashly O'Harrow.



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