Tech’s Minerettes Record Unconquered Season

SOCORRO, N.M. November 22, 2010 – At 20 years of age, New Mexico Tech junior environmental engineering student Megan Rosebrough has a longer perspective on the Minerettes Soccer Club’s unbeaten autumn season than just about anyone, including the coaches.


Facing down a penalty shot are Minerettes Isabella Ortiz, Megan Rosebrough, Natalie Kane, Mercedes Donio, and Stephanie Nance. In goal is Jacqui Wise.


The Minerettes women’s soccer team cuts up for the camera.


Minerette coaches Navid Mojtabai and Brad Winton watch as Naomi Sasso (white jersey) runs down a ball.

Rosebrough started playing for Tech in the fall of 2008 but missed most of that season to keep her grades up, a familiar story among the school’s student athletes. She’s been back on the beam since the spring of 2009, and recalls the shortage of players the Minerettes went through.

Former Tech library director Owen Ellard was the coach then, but the team only had about seven players and only saw the rest of the team on game days. That’s because the team travels to Albuquerque or Bernalillo for Sunday matches in the Albuquerque Women’s Soccer League.

In those not-so-distant days the Minerettes had to rely on non-student auxiliary members to form a full side. This fall, the Tech’s ladies wrote a very different story: the Minerettes scored their best season ever with seven wins, no losses, and two draws.

The team struggled during Megan’s early seasons, but increasingly more Tech coeds gravitated to the team, swelling the ranks to 19 on-campus members. Former Socorro High soccer great Brad Winton came on as head coach of both the women’s and men’s programs, and mineral engineering professor Dr. Navid Mojtabai added women’s coaching duties to his busy schedule. Attendance at evening practices swelled, allowing more coordination within the team.

The team now consists of players with experience ranging from fresh beginners to former high school varsity and a few club team players.

“When Brad couldn’t be at practice or games, Navid was there. The variety in their coaching styles appealed to the girls,” team president Carla Dozal said. The 2009-2010 Sportswoman of the Year at Tech and set to graduate in mechanical engineering in December, Carla sported an unscored-upon record as goalie through five matches, until a deep muscle bruise sidelined her.

“Jacqui Wise stepped in as goalkeeper and played outstandingly for the remainder of the season,” Winton said.

She wasn’t the only one; the Minerettes outscored their opponents by the combined score of 37-3. Following the team’s last match, a 1-1 draw on November 14, the coach supplied a general rundown of some key players’ contributions: “Natalie Kane and Stephanie Nance played fantastic in the defense for us. Megan Rosebrough was a player that we could always count on to get the team going and control the midfield. Amy Reed not only led our team in goals with 15, but led the entire AWSL. Naomi Sasso (8 goals) and Claire Honeyfield (5 goals) were also a big part of our attack.

Mojtabai stressed the important contributions made by players new to the team, including Natasha Stopa, Isabella Ortiz, Katrina Sweetland, Mercedes Donio, Andrea McHugh and Beth Hanines. Winton praises the team’s balance.

“The ladies are a solid team from top to bottom,” he said. “Most games our potent attack overwhelmed the defense but when it came crunch time our defense always came up big. Allowing only three goals during an entire season is unheard of.”

Local soccer buffs relished two rare opportunities to see the Minerettes in action at home this fall, a victory over United World College on September 18 and the first AWSL-sanctioned match ever played in Socorro on October 24. George Avila, father of incoming freshman player Jessica, was instrumental in arranging the special scheduling concession from the Albuquerque league.

Other sport clubs at New Mexico Tech will be interested to know how the Minerettes do it. According to Winton, “The difference between this team and any other teams I have coached is their willingness to learn and try new styles. We had an extremely versatile team this year. We could switch formations mid-game and the ladies wouldn’t skip a beat.”

Megan Rosebrough (left) and Naomi Sasso exchange high fives following a goal.

Rosebrough said, “The rookies worked hard in practice and that meant we really didn’t have any weak positions.”

Yet Dozal’s summation of her last season as a Minerette might offer the most valuable clue for book-weary Techies. The fall season, road trips and all, “was really fun.”

Following a well-deserved hiatus, the Minerettes will be at it again next spring. Team training will begin in February and the playing season in March. If the Minerettes keep up their pace in the spring they just might find themselves with a proud new challenge for the fall of 2011: promotion to the AWSL premier division.

The Minerette website, featuring high-quality match photography by Teresa and George Avila, can be accessed at http://minerettesoccer.com/minerettes.htm.

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By Dave Wheelock/Tech Club Sports Coordinator