By John Philip Wyllie
It was a good thing that former Bonita Vista High and SDSU goalkeeper Linnea Quinones had a plane to catch on Monday!
Had she been able to remain in Fort Lauderdale while the WUSA player draft was being conducted, she would have had to wait through 31 agonizing selections until her name was called. With the 32nd and final pick the San Jose CyberRays selected Quinones.
"I didn't catch any of the draft coverage on Monday," Quinones said upon returning home.
Along with many of the other players, a weary Quinones was being shuttled to the airport while the draft was unfolding. "Five minutes prior to boarding the plane in Fort Lauderdale, I got a call from my Mom and she told me the news. When it was later confirmed by a league official, Quinones was on cloud nine.
"I was so excited, I didn't know what to do," she said. "To be picked was exciting enough, but to end up in California where my parents will be able to see me play is just awesome!"
In the preceding week, Quinones participated in the WUSA combine, an event similar to the collegiate football's Senior Bowl. There, she pitted her skills against the top, graduating goalkeepers in the country under the watchful eyes of the eight WUSA coaches. "The whole week was very stressful and I got almost no sleep during the final weekend," Quinones said.
She did at least have some friends in Fort Lauderdale with which to share the experience. Among them was Mexican national team teammate, Monica Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a mid-fielder, was selected in the second round by the Boston Breakers. According to Quinones, Gonzalez was equally thrilled to have been picked and like her, will begin practicing with her new team later this month.
In San Jose, Quinones will compete for the back-up goal-keeper's job behind WUSA Goalkeeper of the Year, La-Keysia Beene. Among those battling for the job will be former UNLV keeper, Alice Gleason, a player Quinones has seen a lot of during the last four seasons. "We had some great battles while in college, so I'm looking forward to competing against her again."
"I'm leaving this weekend for the individual team tryouts, then on the 26th they will cut down (to meet league roster requirements)." On March 1 the full team will convene in San Jose. The CyberRays will travel to San Diego on March 16 for a five-day joint training camp at the Arco Olympic Training Center with the San Diego Spirit. The highlight of that camp will be an exhibition game scheduled for March 17 at Cal State Fullerton.