Wolfe, Botelho and Wassell prepare for UNR
At times, that could be frustrating for a team that had plenty of veteran depth a year ago, and finished 12-4-4. That .700 winning percentage ended up being the highest in program history.
So this year, with second-year head coach Michael Coll sometimes starting seven freshmen in games, UNLV has had to rely on its three seniors.
Yes. Three seniors to mentor 14 freshmen.
And regardless if seniors Courtney Botelho, Kylie Wassell and Jenn Wolfe have gone through the highs and lows this season, with Senior Day on Friday against in-state rival Nevada-Reno at 5 p.m., the chance to get a high seed in the Mountain West tournament is still a possibility.
“It was difficult for awhile because [the freshmen] don’t know the culture of our team, they didn’t know the traditions, the way we held ourselves to high standards,” Wolfe said. “These freshmen are amazing and they take everything into account.”
The Rebels got off to a strong start this season, heading into conference play with a 5-3-2 record.
Wolfe, from Olathe, Kan., was second in the Mountain West in goals (12) and points (26) in 2012. She wasn’t scoring as much and focused on distributing the ball to her teammates.
Even with only five goals on the year, she leads the team in goals scored. When she wasn’t scoring, the Rebels struggled, losing five of their first seven in Mountain West play.
“Our team in general, we had a tough couple of weeks there,” Wolfe said. “The team wasn’t playing well. It was tough individually at first because we weren’t scoring [and] creating opportunities.”
But UNLV is making a late push heading into its final regular season game before the conference tournament. With back-to-back wins over Air Force and Wyoming (OT), the Rebels have a chance to move from seventh to at least fifth in the Mountain West.
This is the type of situations where the seniors have to step up and take their leadership roles to the next level. That comes naturally to Botelho when it comes to her family situation.
“I have a younger brother and he’s the same age as them,” Botelho said. “So I think that plays a role that I feel almost like a big sister to them. That made it easier.”
Leaving family in Hawaii and coming to Las Vegas was a culture shock to the midfielder Botelho, much like what Wolfe went through coming halfway across the country from Kansas.
The good thing for her was a large number of Hawaiians live in Las Vegas, so that made her transition easier.
Wassell, on the other hand, didn’t have to go very far for college. A Las Vegas native who went to Bonanza High School, the senior goalkeeper and hometown native didn’t have much to say about her final game on Friday, but emotions will run high for her like everyone else.
“I think I’m just taking that nervous energy and excitement and channelling it into the game [on Friday],” Wassell said.
UNLV has a great chance to head into the conference tournament with a three-game winning streak, and it takes on a Wolf Pack (5-9-4) team that hasn’t won a game in four of the last five matches.
The team is trying to aim for a sellout of at least 2,000 people, which would be a record attendance figure for Peter Johann Memorial Field. Against an in-state rival, Coll feels that he won’t need to tell his team anything before heading out to the pitch on Friday.
“There will be a lot going on,” Coll said. “It’s against their rival. It’ll be the same with expected more bite. I don’t think I’ll have to remind them of anything.”
That seems to be true.
“It is essential that we go into the tournament with this win,” Wolfe said, “and hopefully kick Reno’s ass.”