March 22, 2002

Quinones on the Bubble in San Jose

By John Philip Wyllie

Ten Days. That is how long former Bonita Vista High and SDSU goaltender Linnea Quinones has to convince San Jose CyberRays coach, Ian Sawyers that she deserves a place on the team that won last year's inaugural WUSA Founders Cup of women's professional soccer.

The 21 year old Quinones is one of three players competing for one job, the back-up role to LaKeysia Beene, the person many believe is the best female goalkeeper on the planet. While Quinones does not know at this point whether she will be preparing for the season on April 1 or returning to SDSU to finish her degree, the month of March has been one of the most rewarding and exciting of her life.

"No matter what happens, this has been a great opportunity," Quinones said following her team's 2-2 exhibition draw with the San Diego Spirit in Fullerton. "I've had so much fun and hopefully that will continue, but it's been a great experience."

While training with the CyberRays, Quinones has had the opportunity to carefully study Beene, the team's undisputed starter and the league's 2001 Goalkeeper of the Year. Along the way, she has picked up a few tips she thinks will be beneficial in her own career.

"LaKeysia was traveling with the national team the first few weeks of practice, but I'm glad that she is back now," Quinones said. It's awesome to watch her play, to train with her and to learn from her. You see a whole different side of things. She leaves everything on the field and she doesn't worry when mistakes happen. I like her calmness, she is always calm when she plays."

It has been difficult for Quinones to remain calm with the prospect of a professional career now within her grasp, but having played in the '99 Women's World Cup, dealing with pressure has become almost second nature.

"The Women's World Cup was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but this ranks right up there," she said. "It's been amazing and I'm having a lot of

fun."

Some players describe their existence in professional sports as something similar to riding on a rollercoaster. On good days, you feel the exhilaration of making a key play, winning an important match, or achieving something you have long been striving for. There are also days however, when nothing seems to go right. On days like that Lady Luck seems out to get you, the coach may be on your back or you may be languishing on the bench for an opportunity that never comes.

While Sunday night was one of the latter for Quinones who watched the game from the sidelines, she is pleased with the CyberRays organization and

the way in which the competition has been conducted.

"There is a lot of competition here. There are three other very good goalkeepers and it's going to be a tough decision for the coaches. I just have to go out there every day and continue working hard. They have been very fair, so it's all on us. Hopefully, things will work out."

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