Miguez, Mascaro Receive SBC Soccer Honors

November 6, 2002 · MT Media Relations
MOBILE, Ala. - Middle Tennessee's Laura Miguez was named First Team All-Sun Belt and transfer Christina Mascaro received the conference Newcomer of the Year award Tuesday evening at an awards banquet to kick off the 2002 Sun Belt Soccer Championships.

Miguez, a sophomore forward from Dallas, Texas, leads the Blue Raiders in scoring with nine goals and 20 points this season. The J.J. Pearce High School product has all nine of her goals and 19 of her 20 points in the last 10 matches.

Mascaro, a junior transfer from North Alabama, has one goal and five assists this season. She played her first two seasons for first-year head coach Aston Rhoden.

"Both players deserved their honor and it is very special for them and for our program," Rhoden said. "Laura and Christina have both worked very hard all season."

The second-seeded Blue Raiders face North Texas in the first round of the Sun Belt Tournament on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at The Cage on the South Alabama campus.

Middle Tennessee, which has lost the last two years in the conference tournament by 3-0 decisions, enters the contest as a seventh seed. The Blue Raiders fell to Denver in 2000 and lost to Florida International last season.

The Blue Raiders finished the regular season with an 8-11-1 overall record and a 3-5 mark. Middle Tennessee ended the regular season dropping two conference games at home. The Blue Raiders dropped a heartbreaker to South Alabama, 3-2, and then the regular season finale in a hard-fought match against Louisiana-Lafayette, 3-1.

First-year head coach Aston Rhoden believes the squad learned a valuable lesson after dropping back-to-back conference matches.

"The loss against South Alabama was pretty difficult to deal with because it was a game that we played well in and led at halftime by two goals," Rhoden said.

"We didn't capitalize on some opportunities in the second half and ended up losing in the last 40 seconds of the match. That was a tough lesson and a tough loss for us. But even so, we still had the opportunity to finish fourth in our league if we had beaten Louisiana-Lafayette. Losing to them, we dropped from potentially third to seventh."

The Blue Raiders hope to get their first-ever conference tournament win versus a North Texas team that finished the year 12-4-1 overall record and 6-2 in the conference. Marilyn Marin, a junior on the UNT squad, leads the nation in scoring.

"North Texas is a pretty solid team and they have the number one scorer in the nation. In this conference though, any team can beat the other," Rhoden stated.

Earlier in the season, Middle Tennessee fell to the Lady Eagles in a 6-0 decision in Denton, Texas, and have dropped all three previous meeting to UNT. Wednesday's match will be the first tilt in the conference tourney between the two clubs.

"We learned [in the first meeting with North Texas] that we can't take things for granted. We played well against North Texas in the first half," Rhoden said. "I think we dominated most of the first half. We didn't take care of the opportunities that we got and we didn't take the opportunities that presented themselves to us.

"They got maybe three opportunities and scored on two of them. I think we learned that they are a very explosive team. They can be down but they are never going to be out."

A win for the Blue Raiders against North Texas would mean a match against the winner of Florida International and South Alabama on Friday.

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