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UNM Women's Soccer Opens Season Against Canisius College
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  08/23/2006
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

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Aug. 23, 2006

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The New Mexico women's soccer team will open the 2006 regular season against Canisius College in the Caroline Pardee Invitational. This weekend the University of Akron will host the tournament that includes UNM, Canisius, the Citadel and Akron. The Lobos play the early game Fri., Aug. 25 at 5 p.m. EST, while Akron and the Citadel play in the late match. The invitational has been setup with the winners advancing to a championship game, while the losers compete in a consolation match.

"This team is really excited to open the season," said UNM head coach Kit Vela. "This whole week everyone has been ready to play. We have been gearing up throughout the preseason for opening day and it's finally here. This tournament has four good teams and it's a great way to start the season."

Complete results and coverage from the Caroline Pardee Invitational can be found at www.GoLobos.com.

Weekly Notes:

Seven Seniors:

UNM has seven seniors returning in 2006, including last year's leading scorer Kristine Sweat. The Lobos are talented and look to capitalize on their experience. Seniors Ashley Lowery, Bridgette Sanchez, Alanna Abeyta, Eryn Paetz, Kellee Hafner and Kaela Kelly join sweat. Throughout their careers at UNM the program has continued to improve. They are currently the largest senior class in school history.

High Expectations:

The UNM women's soccer team returns a wealth of talent for the 2006 season. Last season, the Lobos reached the MWC Tournament championship game and were one win away from the first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. Over the last three years UNM has steadily improved. The eight wins from last season matched the win total from the 2003 and 2004 seasons combined.

Home Schedule:

UNM will host 10 home events this year, including the UNM Classic. UNM will host national prominent programs such as Texas, Purdue and UTEP as well as conference foes Utah, BYU and San Diego State. All of the home games will be played at the UNM Soccer Complex.

Lobo Newcomers:

The Lobos welcome eight newcomers to the squad. This fall, Vela brings in seven freshmen and one transfer to add to an already talented roster. The 2006 class includes sophomore Mary-Kate Sliter, freshmen Chelsey Norton, Katie McKernan, Megan Bodenheimer, Paige Collett, Veronika Strnadova, Markee Nobriga and Ashley Phipps.

Kit Vela Enters Sixth Season:

UNM head coach Kit Vela enters her sixth season coaching the Lobos and returns a talented roster. Vela, who has been rebuilding the women's soccer program since arriving, looks to build upon her recent success. Last season, Vela guided the Lobos to an 8-7-4 overall record and reached the championship game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

UNM Picked Fifth In Preseason Poll:

The Lobo women's soccer team was picked fifth in the MWC preseason coaches' poll as announced by the league office in August. UNM finished fifth in the final 2005 conference standings and returns every goal scorer from last season. BYU is projected as the league winner with Utah and San Diego State following in order. UNLV was projected to finish ahead of the Lobos with TCU, Wyoming and Air Force rounding out the poll.

UNM Faces Tough Schedule In 2006:

The Lobos will play 18 games this season against one of the nation's toughest schedules. UNM faces six NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, including three conference schools in BYU, Utah and UNLV. The Lobos host eight home events this season, with the 2006 home opener set for Sept. 7 against Texas.

Offensive Weapons:

UNM welcomes back numerous offensive threats, including leading scorer Kristine Sweat. Sweat scored six goals last season and dominated on the offensive side of the ball. Senior Bridgette Sanchez was one of five Lobos to score two goals last season and they all return.

Preseason Training:

The Lobos opened preseason camp on August 9 with two-a-day workouts. UNM continued to prepare for the season opener, while participating in multiple drills as the team developed. The Lobos defeated Fort Lewis College 3-0 on August 17 in the only exhibition match of the year. UNM had its final workout of the preseason on Aug. 23.

Season Openers:

UNM has opened the season on the road in five of the last six years. Under the direction of head coach Kit Vela, the Lobos have gone 1-2-2 on opening day with the only win coming against Cincinnati in 2004. UNM has opened the season at home five times in the 14-year history. All-time the Lobos are 4-6-3 in season openers.

Scouting Canisius College:

UNM battled Canisius College on Aug. 25 in Akron, Ohio to start the season. Canisius College has 14 letterwinners from last year and has nine starters back for this season. The Griffs were picked eighth by the coaches in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference after going 6-12 in 2005. The Lobos will take on the Griffs for the first-time in school history.

Next Weekend:

The Lobos will travel to Las Vegas, Nev., to compete in the UNLV adidas Classic. UNM is scheduled to face Oakland at 1 p.m. on Sept. 2 and UC-Irvine on Sept. 4 at 11 a.m. This season the Lobos will participate in four regular-season tournaments.

UNM Classic:

The 2006 UNM Classic will be held on Sept. 29 - Oct. 1 at the UNM Soccer Complex. The four-team event features the Lobos taking on St. Mary's College on Friday night and the wolf pack of Nevada Sunday afternoon. For more information about the UNM Classic visit www.GoLobos.com.

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