December 1, 2000

Castellanos, Quinones bring optimism to the future of Aztec soccer

By John Philip Wyllie

Despite their 8-13 Mountain West Conference finish, the San Diego State Aztecs Women's Soccer Team remains optimistic about the future.

Much of the optimism stems from the expected return of a pair of home grown Mexican-American players; goal scorer Kim Castellanos, and goalkeeper, Linnea Quinones. Castellanos, a product of Rancho Bernardo High School provided much of the offense for the young Aztec team. Her 10 goals set a freshman conference scoring record. When she wasn't scoring herself, she was using her excellent playmaking skills to create opportunities for her teammates.

The future of SDSU soccer looks bright with Linnea Quinones as goalkeeper.

At the other end of the field, Quinones, a junior out of Bonita Vista High School, had her most productive season in goal notching 54 saves with a goals against average of just under 2.0. Her best performance of the season came against highly regarded Utah when she recorded 11 saves. Despite her efforts, Utah ultimately eliminated the Aztecs from postseason play in the conference semifinals. The efforts of both players resulted in their being named to the Mountain West all-conference team. Castellanos was further honored by being selected (along with BYU's Aleisha Cramer) as the conference's Freshman Player of the Year.

"In the latter part of the season, we definitely came on," says Quinones. If we had played that way all season long, we would have been a lot more successful and made it to the NCAA Tournament. But we are losing only two players (to graduation) and only one starter, so with nearly the entire team returning next season, plus a couple of recruits who are supposed to be really good, we should be a lot better." A lot of those hopes, at least in Quinones' mind, revolve around Castellanos.

"I expect a lot out her next season," says Quinones about the freshman sensation. "What we needed was somebody who could score goals for us and Kim, with her touch and her ability to take players on, did that. Toward the end of the season, she came into her own. She works hard, so I think she will be there for us for the next few seasons."

With the Aztec season now at an end, Quinones will soon begin training with the Mexican National Team. Mexico is preparing for their upcoming Dec. 10 match against the United States in Houston. With Canada's recent 3-1 upset of the U.S., Quinones is optimistic that Mexico will be able to play competitively against the reigning Women's World Cup champions as well.

Quinones hopes that Cas-tellanos will one day join her on that team. But while Mexico has expressed interest in having her, Castellanos has been hesitant to commit herself. Once she does, that will eliminate any possibility of her ever playing for the United States according to international rules.

"It is every girl's dream to play on the U.S. national team and that has been my dream since eighth grade. I want to go as far as I can," says Castellanos. "I've spoken with their coach, (Leonardo Cuellar) and it was an honor even to be asked." But for now she will strive to improve her game so that maybe one day she'll answer the phone and American national team coach, April Heinrichs, will be on the line.

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