Aug. 7, 2008
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico women's soccer will kick off the season with a strong cast of returning players as well as the addition of several talented young newcomers. The Lobos will battle the heat and compete for 11 starting positions when UNM start two-a-day practices this Sunday.
After obtaining their third straight winning season in a row with eight wins in each season, the Lobos road ahead looks very bright. New Mexico will return seven starters and welcome 16 newcomers as it chases as its first Mountain West Conference title. The Lobos will see their first action of the season on Aug 15 at 1 p.m. as they face off against each other in the Inaugural Cherry-Silver match.
With growing expectations and their eyes on the NCAA Tournament, the Lobos are inspired to return to the MWC Tournament. They plan to put their best foot forward and continue the tradition of winning and excellence at the University of New Mexico.
"This will be an exciting and dynamic group," said head coach Kit Vela. "We have a great nucleus and an outstanding freshman class coming in. I expect great things from this group above wins and losses. They're a really fun team to watch with a lot of really good soccer personalities."
New Mexico returns five forwards this season. Senior Hannah Hand is every goal scorers best friend as she had seven assists a season ago and is rising up the UNM career assist ladder. Katie McKernan and Kate Wyrick will bring experience to the table while Asha Richardson will look to compete for playing time.
Incoming freshman Jennifer Williams will provide speed along the flank and set up opportunities for the Lobos to get shots on goal. Her aggressive style will be matched by her finesse with the ball and ability to find her teammates down the field. Other freshman forwards that will be in the mix are Natalie Jenks, Roxie McFarland, Alexandra Wodka and Jordan Craig.
"Hannah Hand could have a break out senior season," Vela said. "Kate Wyrick and Katie McKernan are really good players. Jennifer Williams I think is going to be very good. We have a really good dynamic with those four plus coming in that are going to make a difference. Natalie Jenks, Alexandra Wodka, Roxie McFarland and Jordan Craig will all contribute and provide us with extra weapons."
The Lobos' midfield will return three letterwinners in Rachel Fields who saw action in nine matches, Veronika Strnadova who saw playing time in 16 matches and returning starter Kaci Paetz. Paetz, a senior, will lead a young group of midfielders on the field. Paetz saw action in all 17 games last year and logged 1,582 minutes. Sophomore sensation Alexis Ball returns after having a storybook freshman season as she lead the team in points, goals and shots.
"Our midfield is going to be outstanding," said Vela. "We are going to have an outstanding group, but we are just going to be very young. We return Kaci Paetz, Alexis Ball, Veronika Strandova and Rachel Fields. We are bringing in the best group of freshmen midfielders hands down that we have ever seen. With Amanda Collins, Nicole Reed, Zaneta Wyne, Janelly Farias, Gianna Cavuoto and Jael Fanning we will just have to see how fast they acclimate to this level of play."
The heart of the team will be the defense as the Lobos return four letterwinners, including senior Samantha Bevis who saw action in all 17 games last season, led the team in minutes played and even managed to put two balls in the back of the net from her defender position. Senior Krista Peterson started all 17 games and logged 1,477 minutes and even chipped in an assist. Sophomore Megan Bodenheimer has already seen more playing time than many. Logging 1,600 minutes, Bodenheimer started every game as a redshirt freshman. Sophomore Elizabeth Lambert, who saw action in four games last season, will look to contend for more playing time.
"Our starting back four are excellent," Vela said. "We are a little lean in experience. We've got five players coming back in Sami Bevis, Megan Bodenheimer, Krista Peterson, Liz Lambert and Kerrin Stephan. We are bringing in another four defenders with the Carpenter twins, Courtney and Megan who are very athletic, Erin O'Brien and Aubrey Grier. It's a very young group. They're all athletic. We'll just have to see who fits in first."
Returning in goal is senior Shannon Adragna who is in her final season as a Lobo and will leave her mark on the UNM record book. Adragna ranks in the top five in five different UNM career records including wins (5th), ties (2nd), saves (5th) and shutouts (T-3rd). Incoming freshman Kelli Cornell will be baptised by fire as she will be the lone backup for Adragna. However, Cornell should be up to the task.
"Shannon Adragna is back for her senior season and I think she can have an unbeleivable senior year," said Vela. "Kelli Cornell is an underated keeper coming out of California. With the training we have here the sky is the limit for Kelli."
New Mexico will have 16 newcomers in Cherry and Silver this fall. Junior transfer Jess Quador will have an immediate impact as she is a versatile player who can play almost anywhere on the field. With the addition of 15 incoming freshmen, including Courtney Carpenter, Megan Carpenter, Gianna Cavuto, Amanda Collins, Kelli Cornell, Janelly Farias, Jael Fanning, Aubrey Grier, Natalie Jenks, Roxie McFarland, Erin O'Brien, Nicole Reed, Jennifer Williams, Alexandra Wodka and Zaneta Wyne, depth is a key component to the program.The 16 newcomers is the biggest class and maybe the best class to wear the Cherry and Silver for UNM.
"This is the most talented and deepest group of kids we have ever brought in," Vela said. "We are bringing in depth to every position and talent. This is by far the biggest and most eager group assembled."
New Mexico opens the season at Denver on Aug. 22 before coming home on Aug. 24 to face Northern Arizona in the home opener at 1 p.m. All the home games for UNM will be available on gametracker and live video through all access on www.GoLobos.com.