Men’s Soccer 4/16/19 Update from the Soccer Yoda
This past Saturday the Rebels closed out their 2019 spring schedule with a home match against
Brigham Young University’s club team. As is typical with college spring programs, UNLV sported a
lineup which might have little resemblance to the actual eleven that takes the field next August in their
first varsity game. On the surface the competition, being a club team, might have seemed to be below
UNLV’s standard, even in the spring. But that would be deceiving. The NCAA is famous for it’s
numerous restrictions on the eligibility of it’s athletes, but clubs do not necessarily operate under the
same rules. Many participants in club/recreational sports would be ineligible under NCAA rules. In
addition, BYU is no slouch in club soccer. In making it to the NIRSA (the club version of the NCAA)
national Elite Eight last fall they established themselves as a powerhouse in the collegiate club soccer
And any thought that the Cougars would be an easy touch were dashed early in the match. The
Rebels came out in a 4-3-3 formation and when in possession in the back, they pushed their outside
backs up while bring defensive midfielder Nico Clasen back to orchestrate the buildup from the back.
BYU responded by pressing high, at the least… to force long balls from the Rebels or, at best…to gain
possession deep in the UNLV defense if they could win the ball. Sure enough, nine minutes into the
game the Cougars jumped on a poor Rebel pass reception to take the lead.
However, 5 minutes was all it took for the Rebels to answer. A series of possession passes in
their own half followed by a searching ball down the left produced a Cougar foul just outside the BYU
penalty area. UNLV played the ball short and Clasen hit a masterpiece into the left side of the goal from
20 yds… 1-1.
UNLV continued the offensive, a nice set of passes through the middle produced a wicked shot
from the right side by Ivan Farias stretching the BYU keeper into a difficult save. And only 2 minutes
later a long ball down the right again set up Farias for a keeper-parried attempt which gave the Rebels a
At that point the Cougars dropped off to stop the deep incursions by the UNLV attack and while
successful in cutting off any more goal chances it also gave a good deal of midfield control to the home
team. Finally, at 34 minutes BYU put together a string of passes which gave them some penetration and
4 minutes later they got a man free in the Rebel penalty area. Although the ref decided the ensuing
tackle was not a penalty kick , the UNLV back line was reminded that the Cougars were still capable of
The second half continued the trend established in the first. The home team maintained field
position, but had difficulty turning it into anything significant while BYU did not threaten with any of
their few minutes of ball control. During the half coach Rich Ryerson made some changes in position
for some of the UNLV players, most notably moving Marco Gonzalez from midfield to a central
forward spot. Marco’s speed proved to be a big problem for the BYU defense. The Rebels occasionally
used a straight through ball down the middle to catch the visitors central defense moving up, as the play
was dominated by midfield short passes. 32 minutes into the half a long ball found Gonzalez and he
was unfortunate not to score and 5 minutes later a central through ball put Marco in as he coolly went
around the onrushing keeper to give UNLV the lead.
The last 10 minutes were very different though. BYU pushed hard for the equalizer and the
Rebels couldn’t relieve the pressure for any length of time. Only some very scrappy play in front of the
home goal kept the lead and a UNLV victory.
The game was one of UNLV dominance after the initial BYU goal and the result was reflective
of the play although the last few minutes caused some scary moments for the Rebels. The spring season
solidified the general feeling that the Rebels have some very strong areas and some parts of their game,
particularly more clinical production from their time in their attacking third, which can be improved
upon. With the addition of some strong inbound talent and the return of most of last season’s squad,
next fall looks to be an exciting one for the Rebel faithful.