UNLV Invitational has Rebels in position to go 3-1 before roadtrip
While the fireworks at Premier UNLV on Thursday signal the beginning of a new school year, the women’s soccer team hopes to have an electrifying home-opener on Friday.
“We’re going to come out flying,” said senior Jenn Wolfe. “We’re so excited because it’s our home opener. We’re going to be on fire.”
Head coach Michael Coll was adamant at practice on Wednesday that the team must control the tempo of the game in order to pick up two wins in the UNLV-hosted Nike Invitational this weekend.
The Rebels will host Portland State on Friday at 7 p.m. before closing out the invitational against LIU Brooklyn on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“I want us to really push the tempo in the home games and be the team that’s getting the restarts quickest, a team that’s really attacking more,” Coll said. “I think a high-tempo offense is what you’re going to see.”
Wolfe scored twice in the season-opening road win over UC Riverside on Sunday. With just seven home games scheduled this season, winning all seven would mean meeting last year’s combined home win total.
UNLV (1-1) went 7-2-1 at home a year ago, and even with 14 freshmen on the squad, the Rebels believe they can match that win total from last year.
“Everyday is a huge learning day for them,” Coll said about the freshmen. “Their speed of play is going to be challenged every training session and every game. They’re doing fine right now, but we do want them to feel comfortable to take on a more avid leadership role.”
Though senior Courtney Botelho is sidelined with an injury, she was providing words of encouragement and advice to teammates during practice on Wednesday.
While she recovers, Coll is using a four-player rotation during her absence.
“The aim is to get somebody into that leadership position on the field until Courtney comes back,” Coll said. “It’s a shared leadership between four players during segments of the game: Addy Guida, Denali Murnan, Miranda Rawlings, and Jordan Magnin.”
Wolfe and Murnan have scored all of the team’s goals this year, and while Botelho and sophomore Susie Bernal have accounted for all four of the team’s assists, Wolfe envisions a bright future for the team’s rookies.
“I think a good handful have really made an impact on our team, and they’re going to do big things in their next four years here,” Wolfe said.
With Portland State sitting at 0-2 for the season and LIU Brooklyn at 1-1, the Rebels have a decent chance at improving to 3-1 before their six-game road trip begins on Sept. 6 at Sacramento State.
Though Coll said that setting the tone at home doesn’t necessarily translate to success on the road, he did admit that it couldn’t hurt.
“It is vital that we win home games because we have so few of them. Home field advantage is real,” Coll said. “For sure we want to be on that plane to Sacramento State with smiles on our faces, and two home wins this weekend will allow us to do that.”