Albuquerque, N.M. --- One would think that after back-to-back Mountain West championships, back-to-back trips to the NCAA College Cup, and the fact that the New Mexico Lobos haven't lost a conference match since 2009, recruiting might get a little easier for head coach Kit Vela and company. In a way, one would be right, and in a way, it's a whole new mountain to climb.
But Vela and her staff keep climbing that mountain and reaching new peaks, and there is no better evidence than with the announcement of her 2012 signing class, as Lobo women's soccer picked up eight NLIs, ranging from California to Colorado to right in UNM's backyard with a pair of Albuquerque commitments. The class features goal scorers, lockdown defenders, speed, and agility, and probably most important to coach Vela; winners. Winners on the pitch, and winners in the classroom. Those types of qualities have translated in the last two years into a pair of championships.
"This is a class of strength and character," said Vela, who just finished her 11th season with the program. "This is a group of terrific players, who are also solid students, who believe in our philosophy of hard work." With much success, it makes sense for Vela to take care of her own backyard. She did just that with a pair of local recruits in teammates Alyssa Coonrod and Olivia Ferrier. Both players teamed up at Albuquerque's Volcano Vista High School to win a state title as juniors, and narrowly missing a second as seniors. The all-staters just add to a roster that saw seven Albuquerque and surround area student-athlete contribute, and Coonrod and Ferrier will look to join the ranks of some recent great homegrown Lobos.
"This is a class of strength and character. This is a group of terrific players, who are also solid students, who believe in our philosophy of hard work."
"We have an 11-year history of tremendous New Mexico student-athletes in our program," said Vela. "This is strongly shown in newly graduated Jael Fanning, who was a Mountain West Second Team All-Conference player, a two-year captain, and integral in the 4.0 club with a degree in Nutrition! We also have current New Mexico impact players, led by seniors Natalie Jenks and Rachel Montoya. We look forward to continuing that tradition, for years to come." Coonrod and Ferrier aren't the only teammates in the signing class, as Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy teammates Katelyn Almeida and Tera Trujillo will join the Lobos in the fall. Both played with current Lobo sophomore Sinead Fleming at FHSA last year. Bringing in teammates allows for an instant familiarity, and it shows that UNM has a solid Southern California pipeline
Vela notes that FSHA has definitely served as a pipeline for the Lobo program. "Prior to Sinead, we had a very successful Hannah Hand from FSHA, showing that we have a mutual belief in each other's programs. We believe in the quality of people and the quality of athletes that Frank Pace produces, and we are very happy to be bringing in two more FSHA players."
Almeida and Trujillo aren't the only recruits from California in the class however, as Katie Hinman joins from Mission Viejo and Dylann O'Connor from West Hills California.
Vela also went up to Colorado and dipped into Texas to close out the class, signing a goal scorer in Lindsay Guice from Ft. Collins, and Annie Wheeler from Arlington, Texas.
The eight-woman class won't arrive on campus until the summer, and won't hit the pitch officially until August, but with the track record of championships, regional awards, CoSIDA Academic All-American, and conference honors, this class of eight will be charged with keeping Lobo women's soccer on its current pace, a pace that is continually climbing the national landscape.
5-5 * MF/D * Fr.
Sierra Madre, Calif. (Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy)
Currently in her fourth season at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy High School under co-coaches Frank Pace and Kathy Desmond has earned a slew of honors, earning a pair of All-Mission League accolades in 2010 and 2011, helping FSHA to CIF championships in 2010 and 2011 was named Second Team All-League as a junior currently has two goals and an assist as FSHA is 10-4-1 on the season also had two goals, with two assists, as FSHA won the CIF title, going 23-3-1 won a CIF regular season title and the Mission League title, going 22-1-4, recording a pair of assists as a rookie she had one assist as FSHA went 16-5-4, finishing second in the Mission League earned an academic letter in 2010 and 2011 member of the Honor Roll
Personal: Is the daughter of Manuel and Rosabel Almeida plans to major in business favorite athlete is Luke Walton birthday is June 16, 1994.
Coach Vela on Almeida: "Katelyn is a very smart, gifted player who comes to UNM from a winning background. She is another versatile player who will find herself in several roles with a bright career ahead of her."
5-7 * MF * Fr.
Albuquerque, N.M. (Volcano Vista HS)
Lettered for four seasons at Volcano Vista High School under former Lobo Samantha Lucero also lettered for one season each in track and basketball Earned Honorable Mention All-State honors as a sophomore, junior, and senior, helping VVHS to a state title as a junior, and a runner-up finish as a senior was also a three-time Second Team All-District selection is a member of the National Honor Society, and she ranks in the top 10 in her class in grade point average was an academic letter winner, and was nominated for VVHS's Honorable Hawk award also played Club ball for the New Mexico Rush, helping the Rush to the Club State Championship.
Personal: Is the daughter of Paul and Julie Conrood her mother Julie is a professor of civil engineering at UNM is undecided on a college major favorite athlete is current Lobo basketball player Jamal Fenton birthday is April 8, 1994.
Coach Vela on Coonrod: "Alyssa is a Lobo at heart! She is a driven and determine athlete with a very high work rate. She is a native New Mexican who has incredible pride and will quickly learn her way into this program."
5-3 * D * Fr.
Albuquerque, N.M. (Volcano Vista HS)
Lettered for four seasons at Volcano Vista High School under former Lobo Samantha Lucero picked up a host of awards over her four-year career, highlighted by earning District Co-Player of the Year honors in 2011 as a senior also was the District Defensive Player of the Year in both 2011 and 2010 was a First Team All-State selection as a junior and a senior earned First Team All-Metro in 2011, and earned First Team All-District honors all four seasons was named District MVP as a freshman for the fall of 2009 she was named the Albuquerque Public School Outstanding Female Athlete was a key factor in Volcano Vista's successes, winning a state title as a junior, and finishing second as a senior Volcano Vista also was a state semifinalist her freshman and sophomore years as a freshman VVHS went 17-6-0 as she scored 17 goals and added three assists, playing as a forward as a forward again as a sophomore, VVHS went 15-5-1 as Ferrier scored 11 goals moved to the backline as a junior, helping Volcano Vista to a state title, adding a goal and an assist with Volcano Vista going 17-4 had another goal and an assist as Vista went 17-4 again in her senior year was a four-year member of the National Honor Society also played Club ball for the New Mexico Rush, where she was the 2010 team MVP, helping the Rush to the Club State Championship.
Personal: Is the daughter of Jon and Laura Ferrier her uncle Tom Ferrier ran track at New Mexico from 1982-85 plans to major in physical therapy favorite athlete is Hope Solo birthday is March 27, 1994.
Coach Vela on Ferrier: "Olivia is an athletic defender with a competitive mentality. She moved from forward to defender in high school, and she will be mentored to learn the defensive system, but she can fit in right away with her natural abilities."
5-5 * MF/F * Fr.
Ft. Collins, Colo. (Rocky HS)
A two-year letter winner who is entering her senior season at Rocky High School under coach Ron Clark earned First Team All-Conference honors after a junior season in which she led Rocky with 11 goals, as RHS made it to the state quarterfinals was also named First Team Academic All-State scored 11 goals as a sophomore as Rocky made it to the state semifinals after an upset win over top-ranked Cherry Creek is a member of the RHS honor roll and the National Honor Society
Personal: Is the daughter of Saul and Laura Guice her grandfather John Gaston played college football at Oklahoma in 1953 plans on majoring in business favorite athlete is Tim Tebow birthday is May 26, 1994.
Coach Vela on Guice: "Lindsay is a skillful player with outstanding speed. She is also an extremely hard-worker. She can create great opportunities for herself and her teammates, and she will be another impact player."
5-7 * MF/F * Fr.
Mission Viejo, Calif. (Capistrano Valley HS)
Lettered in both soccer and track at Capistrano Valley High School under coaches Neil Powell and Many Romero will bring the element of speed to the Lobo lineup is a two-time team MVP in track, and was CVHS's Offensive MVP in soccer last season has twice won the conference 400m and ran a leg on the conference championship 4x100-meter relay team qualified for the CIF championships in the 400m, the 4x100, and 4x400
Personal: Her actual first name is Taylor, but goes by Katie is the daughter of Charles and Gretchen Hinman her mother Gretchen played volleyball at SCC, and her grandfather played football at Wichita State plans to major in nutritional sciences favorite athlete is Matt Barkley birthday is January 3, 1994.
Coach Vela on Hinman: "Katie is an incredible athlete who is obviously extremely fast and quick. She should be able to prove herself quickly in a competitive environment."
5-4 * MF * Fr.
West Hills, Calif. (El Camino Real HS)
An offensive-minded midfielder who is currently in her fourth season at El Camino Real High School under coach Eric Choi is currently playing in her senior year, and she has to this point 39 career goals, 30 assists, and 108 career points has led El Camino Real to a 14-2-2 record so far as a senior with 11 goals and six assists had a fantastic junior year, leading ECRHS to a 21-3-3- record and the Los Angeles City Section CIF title she scored 11 goals to go along with 14 assists picked up a host of honors after he junior year, including All-Area First Team, L.A. Daily News First Team, and West Valley League Most Valuable Player was named CIF Player of the Year after a sophomore season in which she scored seven goals and assed nine assists as ECRHS went 14-6-5 with another L.A. City Section CIF title she served as a captain as a sophomore, becoming the youngest captain in school history scored 10 goals with a helper as a rookie as El Camino Real went 12-8-3 ranks among the top 20 in her class in grade point average with over a 4.0
Personal: Is the daughter of Robert and Nancy O'Connor plans on majoring in biology favorite athlete is Tim Tebow birthday is April 18, 1994.
Coach Vela on O'Connor: "Dylan has a tremendous work ethic and great natural athletic abilities. She has a lot of similar qualities to some of our previous top Lobo midfielders, and I think she can put her mark quickly on the team."
5-7 * MF/D * Fr.
Granada, Calif. (Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy)
Currently in her fourth season at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy High School under co-coaches Frank Pace and Kathy Desmond helped FSHA to CIF championships in 2010 and 2011 was named First Team All-Mission League after her junior season recorded 10 points during her sophomore season as FSHA won the CIF title, going 23-3-1 won a CIF regular season title and the Mission League title, going 22-1-4, recording 13 points played ODP from 2006-10, and played club soccer for the highly-touted San Diego Surf, winning a national championship in 2008
Personal: Is the daughter of Victor and Michele Trujillo her father Vic played soccer at BYU plans on majoring in business favorite athlete is Lionel Messi birthday is January 19, 1994.
Coach Vela on Trujillo: "Tera is an outstanding player who will be flying coming off of an injury. She is a winner with a warrior's mentality. She can play anywhere, and she will be an integral piece to our program during her career at UNM."
5-8 * MF/D * Fr.
Arlington, Texas (Arlington HS)
Another high scoring forward who is currently in her fourth season at Arlington High School under coach Andrea Scott had 36 goals and 36 assists for 108 points over her first three years was named First Team All-District as a junior after leading her team to a 20-1-2 record and a District Championship scored 14 goals and added 15 assists for 43 points as a junior was named league MVP and team MVP had 12 goals and 11 assists as a sophomore as Arlington went 17-3-2 as a high school freshman scored 10 goals with 10 assists, helping Arlington for 15-4-3 a member of AHS's "A" honor roll, and of the National Honor Society
Personal: Is the daughter of Ron and Claire Wheeler her grandfather Jack Wheeler played for Lobo basketball from 1943-47 had two uncles that played tennis at UNM: Gary (1976-77) and Jerry (1977-81), and her father Ron played tennis at UNM from 1976-80 is undecided on a college major favorite athlete is Emily Hunter birthday is October 19, 1993.
Coach Vela on Wheeler: "Annie comes from a family of competitive athletes, and she has a Lobo family background. She has tremendous athletic ability and mentality. She has a successful Texas background, and that should translate quickly into our Lobo style of play."