By Brian MontgomeryStaff Writer
In Las Vegas today through Saturday, the Mountain West Conferencetournament will be played. Below is a preview of the six other teamsinvolved in the single-elimination tournament. Teams are listed inorder of finish. San Diego State finished third in the conference andwill be playing sixth-seeded New Mexico in the opening round, as willNo. 2 Utah vs. No. 7 Wyoming and No. 4 UNLV vs. No. 5 Air Force. BYUhas a bye in the first round.
This season: 6-0 MWC, 16-3-1 overall
Result vs. SDSU: Cougars 4, Aztecs 0; BYU came out and pressuredSDSU from the start of the game and the Aztecs never recovered.
Key players: Michelle Peterson, Midfielder, Sr., Kim Lowe,Forward/MF, Sr., Sara Reading, F/MF, Sr., Jennifer Waldron,Goalkeeper, Jr.
Strength: Entire team. The Cougars lead in every major offensivecategory and gave up the least amount of goals. They beat every teamin the conference by at least three goals.
Weakness: None of note
Cougars Update: BYU, the 11th-ranked team in the country, isriding a nine-game winning streak into the tournament, allowing justseven goals in those games. Waldron is giving up just over one goal agame (1.03). Peterson, Lowe and Reading combined have scored 34 ofthe Cougars’ 67 goals this season. The team took a ridiculous 523shots on the year.
Notable: BYU allowed just 5.2 shots a game, easily the best in theconference.
This season: 4-2 MWC, 11-6-1 overall
Result vs. SDSU: Utes 2, Aztecs 0; This game was closer than thescore indicated. The teams played a scoreless first half, but Utahwas able to capitalize on its chances and ultimately wrapped up thesecond seed in the tournament.
Key players: Amy Kofoed, MF, Jr., Katie Tate, MF, So., ShaunaGurr, F, So., Courtney Hills, GK, So.
Strength: Forward, Midfield; Kofoed, Tate and Gurr are greatscorers and should find the back of the net a few times during theweekend.
Weakness: Defense; although SDSU didn’t score, it was able to geta few good chances against the Utes.
Utes Update: Utah is on a roll. It won its final four conferencegames after dropping its first two. The difference now is the Uteshave been scoring more. The first two games they scored two goals andthe last four they scored 11. They were also the only team in theconference that really challenged BYU. This team is playing goodsoccer.
Notable: If the Utes can get past Wyoming and SDSU can beat NewMexico, then the two will lock horns in the second round, and couldpossibly be the best game of the tournament.
This season: 3-3 MWC, 11-8 overall
Result vs. SDSU: Aztecs 4, Rebels 2; SDSU forward Kim Castellanoshad her second hat-trick of the season as the Aztecs won a veryphysical match.
Key players: Janae Sims, F, Jr., Cosette Joffs, F, So., AnitaPedford, MF, Jr.
Strength: Forward; Sims is one of the top offensive players in theconference, finishing fourth in goals with 10.
Weaknesses:Defense and goalkeeper; Despite finishing .500 inconference, UNLV tied with New Mexico in goals against with 15 in sixgames.
Rebels Update: UNLV set a school record with 11 wins on theseason. Sims led the Rebels in goals (10) and points (23). Pedford,like SDSU’s Fay deLeon, led her team in shots despite playing in themidfield.
Notable: The Rebels won seven of eight games at home this season,which could come in handy since they are hosting the tournament.
This season: 2-4 MWC, 5-13-1 overall
Result vs. SDSU: Aztecs 1, Falcons 0; SDSU forward Nicole Findlayscored an early goal as the Aztecs held off a late surge by AirForce.
Key players: Kristy Kuhlman, GK, Sr., Beth Boyer, MF, Jr.,Stephanie Rader, F, Sr.
Strength: Goalkeeper; Kuhlman made five tremendous saves againstSDSU in the teams’ meeting this year.
Weakness: Midfield; The Aztecs’ midfielders pushed the Falcons’midfielders around and dictated play during the game.
Falcons Update: Air Force has endured a tough season. After decentstart, the Falcons went into a long losing streak, although themajority of the losses were close. Earlier this week, Rader was namedMWC Player of the Week for her three goals during a two-game span,helping Air Force to the five seed and an easier first round gameagainst UNLV, rather than having to face the Aztecs.
Notable: The Falcons scored 14 goals against Youngstown State onAug. 27, an NCAA record.
This season: 2-4 MWC, 7-11-0 overall
Result vs. SDSU: Aztecs 4, Lobos 0; Castellanos recorded the firstof back-to-back hat-tricks as SDSU’s defense completely shut down theNew Mexico offense.
Key players: Jayme Dieringer, D, Sr., Tara Alarid, F, So.
Strength: Defense; Dieringer is one of the best defenders innation, let alone the conference.
Weakness: Forward; The Lobos scored only four goals duringconference play, compared to BYU’s 26.
Lobos Update: New Mexico is coming into the tournament on athree-game skid. Like SDSU, the Lobos have had a tough time scoringthis season. They only scored 18 goals in 18 games.
Notable: The Lobos’ average attendance was higher on the road thanit was at home this year.
This season: 0-6 MWC, 7-10-1 overall
Result vs. SDSU: Aztecs 2, Cowgirls 1; Castellanos scored twice asSDSU moved into a first-place tie.
Key players: Amanda Vandervort, GK, Sr., Kelly McShane, F, Sr.,Anne Maddock, MF, Sr..
Strength: Goalkeeper; Vandervort had to save 130 shots on theseason allowing just 28 to get past her.
Weakness: Defense; Anytime a goalkeeper has 130 saves, then it’sobvious the defense is not stopping anyone.
Cowgirls Update: After a promising 7-4-1 start, Wyoming hit rockbottom in conference and went winless. And although it finished last,the Cowgirls were competitive in all but one of their games. Outsideof a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of BYU, Wyoming lost the rest of theirgames by one goal each.
Notable: Vandervort’s 130 saves is 32 more than second placefinisher Shelly Hammock from New Mexico.