After Ali Banister and rest of the Carson High girls soccer team won the Northern 4A Championship in October, Banister said there was no way she could give up soccer. Now, she doesn't have to.
Banister, the Senators' leading scorer the past two seasons, has signed with the University of Nevada. She will receive what amounts to a full-ride scholarship after combining a partial athletic scholarship and the millennium scholarship.
"At first I really didn't want to go to UNR," said Banister, who lettered all four years at Carson. "I looked at a lot of other schools and UNR was the best one financially. Basically, it's free."
Banister will go from one of the winningest high school teams in Nevada to a struggling second-year college program. The Wolf Pack, a member of the Western Athletic Conference, went 3-31-4 in their first two seasons, including a 0-17-1 mark last season. But Nevada head coach Dang Pibulvech, who also coaches Banister's club team, Reno-Sparks United, has a history of turning around young programs. In his 19 years as a college coach, Pibulvech is 190-109-21.
The Wolf Pack only scored 14 goals all of last season. With Banister, they get a proven offensive dynamo with an uncanny knack of finding the goal. Banister scored 34 goals over the past two years, including a team-high 20 goals season during her senior year. But Banister said that Pibulvech hasn't told her where he plans on playing her or how much she'll play as a true freshman.
"Hopefully, I'll play right away, but I just want to get up there and prove myself," said Banister, who's still undecided on a major but is leaning toward Psychology. "I would prefer to play forward but I've been getting used to playing every position."
Carson coach Mike Popp thinks it's only a matter of time before Banister becomes an impact player at Nevada.
"One thing about Ali is that she's always been very focused," Popp said. "She's always looking to improve her skill level and she should be a big boost to their team."
Banister, a two-time Northern 4A pick and three-time All Carson County selection, joins three other Carson Country players on the Wolf Pack roster. Annie Baxter, Amy Jackson, and Patricia Garrick all signed with Nevada last spring and all three Galena High grads had productive freshman years, including Jackson, who scored three goals.
Nevada opens the 2002 season August 30 against Cal-State Northridge.
OTHER RECRUITING NEWS
Carson's Erin Stieber and Douglas' Amber Gwinn will both play soccer next fall for Lassen Community College in Susanville, Calif. Stieber will play soccer and basketball. Senator coach Mike Popp said Allison Kop, arguably the best defender in the Northern 4A the past two seasons, is still undecided on a college. She's scheduled to visit Saint Mary's, located in Moraga, Calif. Fresno State has also shown interest in Kop. Popp said Kop wants to attend college outside of Nevada.