Spotlight

Men’s Soccer 9/10/19 Update from the Soccer Yoda

Prior to their game with Omaha, one thing that could have definitely been said about the UNLV men’s 2019 soccer season was that it had been exciting. The Rebels had seen and scored plenty of goals during their matches and had experienced plenty of tension. They had seen leads lost, leads gained, had engaged in a furious comeback and had experienced two overtime games and all in only three matches. Play was up and down the field and never boring. The thing was, however, that all three games were losses and more of those goals were scored against the Rebels than by them. But that all changed against Omaha.

It’s a major soccer truism that if the ball is on your feet, the opposition can’t score and UNLV kept the ball on its feet very effectively during this match. In the first 2 minutes Rebel goalkeeper Lukas Betz was stretched to save an early shot by Maverick forward Diego Gutierrez. But that offensive thrust by Omaha was a rarity during most of this match. UNLV played its standard 4-3-3,but playing John Lynam together with Bryan Martinez up top for the first time along with Marco Gonzales changed the attacking scenario for the Rebels. This group of three forwards moved well. They checked back to help possession, they interchanged often, they made important diagonal runs, they forced the Omaha defense to scramble to keep up with them.

Not long after that early shot the Rebels midfield possession and movement forced an Omaha foul. The ensuing clear by the Mavericks was gathered by UNLV and as the ball came up the right, Bryan Martinez found Bailey Letherman who hit a 22 yd screamer from beyond the D. The ball hooked right and took Omaha keeper Ugo Tritz by surprise and he although he got to the ball, it managed to get through his hands and the Rebs were up.

UNLV continued to work an excellent short game and at 20 minutes Timo Mehlich forced a good save at the lower far post. 3 minutes later Martinez took another dangerous shot and at 33 minutes the Rebels worked the goal of the season so far. They worked the ball up the left using the possession play that had earmarked them in this match and the ball found Martinez making a diagonal run to the left. Marco Gonzales played it into him and he heel-passed a brilliant ball back to Marco who scored. For the remainder of the half the visitors kept the home standing Mavericks from mounting any real attacks and the half ended at 2-0 Rebels.

The second half saw Omaha change to a three-man back line in an attempt to put more pressure on UNLV and it produced quick results in the form of a tough shot that Betz gathered at the near post. Of course, pushing up like the Mavs were doing offers the opposition chances to counter and Timo had a good shot blocked off a very good counter attack movement. But Omaha was sensing more opportunities and they forced 2 corners at the ten minute mark although nothing came of them. And two minutes later they sprung Gutierrez who forced Betz to parry a hard shot which was rebounded into the goal by Vlad Jokic to pull Omaha to within a goal of equalizing.

It is said that the most dangerous time for a soccer team is right after they score and UNLV proved that to be the case. If anything, Omaha’s goal encouraged them to push up even more and only 2 minutes after the score, Tyler Allen pushed a long low pass to a running Martinez. The Mavericks misjudged the pace of the ball and Bryan controlled it without breaking stride. He followed that with a measured shot that beat Omaha’s second keeper (Tritz had been replaced) Jeremy Pollard.

Finding themselves down by two again, so soon after scoring, had a definite effect on Omaha. And, to the Rebels credit, they made sure that the same thing didn’t happen to them. They kept possession when they had it, they made sure not to overcommit on any passes, they played smart when they did go forward. In other words, they managed their lead well.

This play still produced some good moments for UNLV. At 23 minutes a counter directed by Mehlich gave Lynam an excellent chance and he forced Pollard into a great save. Later, some smart play gave Gonzales room at the 18. He took the ball across the line to his right, beat two defenders, but then uncharacteristically sliced the shot. At 42 minutes Omaha finally took a somewhat dangerous attempt off a header, but it cleared wide of the UNLV goal and 3 minutes later the Rebels had their first win of the season.

Overall it was an vast improvement in control, possession, effective attacking and smart defense by UNLV. This squad surely seems capable of this type of play and if they can repeat this kind of effort a successful season is still a good possibility.

Men’s Soccer 9/4/19 Update from the Soccer Yoda

The NCAA only gives Division 1 soccer teams two weeks to prepare for a new season and this generally produces exciting, if not purist-quality, matches in the early weeks of a new campaign. Games tend to be close and decided by bounces and errors rather than by the exceptional play that can come later in the season as teams begin to jell. For squads with a number of new players it can be even tougher as cohesion is difficult to master while players still learning teammates names.

So, with 13 new players on a 26 man side and a new defensive addition, Billy Jones, missing this game while playing for New Zealand’s Olympic team, UNLV has been at the bottom of the new team-early-season-hill-to-climb. Despite excellent efforts in its first two matches, the unsettled nature of the team and some hard luck has combined to hand the Rebels two heartbreaking losses to start the 2019 season.

San Diego State came into Johann Stadium having suffered a first match defeat after blowing two leads against San Diego University while the Rebels were still smarting from the overtime loss to UC Santa Barbara. As the game began the Aztecs hit a number of long balls to test the Rebel defense and that produced little threat. Actually the most meaningful event of the first couple of minutes was an injury to Rebel midfielder Nico Clasen. Although he continued to play for the rest of the contest, the strain to his back bothered him throughout. The first scoring threats came from set plays as UNLV and San Diego St both hit the crossbar from long efforts after restarts. The Rebels found success in maintaining possession in deeper areas and sending accurate long passes to their wings on the run, particularly on the left through Marco Gonzales. Marco hit a running shot at SDSU goal keeper Max Watkin and two minutes later drew defenders to himelf and then found Timo Mehlich who forced Watkin into a terrific save. The ensuing corner kick, taken by Clasen went to Nick Williams who headed strongly into the net at 16:47 and UNLV had the lead.

The attacks continued and Gonzales, after receiving an excellent diagonal ball from Mehlich, again threatened the Aztec goal, going just wide. San Diego was reduced to long hopeful passes, but at 22:15 UNLV defender Chilo Sanchez was called for a very soft penalty. This was particularly exasperating as there was nobody in a threatening area near the Rebel goal, the foul was questionable and the placement of the foul inside the penalty area was iffy in itself. However UNLV goal keeper Enrique Adame continued his streak of scaring the daylights out of opposing penalty takers, as for the second consecutive game an opposition penalty kick was missed without Enrique touching the ball. This time it was Pablo Pelaez who failed to convert as he fired off the crossbar. This signaled a change in the game however. In the next ten minutes Jake Mecham headed a ball off the UNLV goal line, Palaez again found the UNLV crossbar, this time from 25 yds and the Rebels pulled back to protect the lead. Despite gaining a major portion of possession, San Diego used it to force direct passes ahead of their forwards and the Rebel defense had no trouble picking off those efforts. Actually, despite the overwhelming possession time held by the Aztecs, the most eventful attack of the late first half came when UNLV defender James Drye hit an accurate longball down the Rebel left to Gonzales who was barely wide with his try at goal.

As the half ended, the lack of possession by the home side was troubling and the beginning of the second half was no different. San Diego dominated the ball and it took 6 minutes for UNLV to mount any real penetration into the Aztec half. However, the Rebel defense was still proving to be an impenetrable wall to SDSU attacks. In the 59th minute that changed. Coming down their left, Palaez made up for his missed PK when he spotted an unmarked Hunter George square across the right who shot into the lower far corner to tie the game.

UNLV responded by going on the offense and they produced a couple of corners. One of the longer passes was intercepted however, and quick work by San Diego put Tevenn Roux into space on the rebel right. He evaded two defenders and beat Adame to pit SDSU ahead. At this point Jones’ absence was looking like an issue.

The Rebels were quick to respond, Hayden Prasad , UNLV freshman forward, was making an impression on the Aztec left defense and forced a foul deep on the Rebel right wing. Nico hit a twisting free kick that wound its way through the penalty area and into the goal. UNLV 2 – SDSU 2.

As the match neared the 90 minute mark both teams opened up their offenses in attempts to get the winner, but, despite a couple Rebel crosses, regular time ended without shots at either goal.

So, UNLV entered into its second overtime game in 4 days. Again, both teams went for the golden goal and the play was end-to-end. San Diego shot at 1:17; UNLV earned a corner at 2:10 through Marco and Timo pairing up. Gonzales came off the UNLV left into the center of the field and almost weaved through a number of Aztec defenders. San Diego got a corner for itself at 5:34. Finally, in the seventh minute, San Diego gained the ball on its right and a quick couple of passes found George in front of goal. He hit an excellent turning shot and that was the match.

Overall, UNLV did a better job of preventing turnovers than in their first game and produced a number of effective attacks. However, the lack of possession during the middle of the contest gave San Diego St a chance to get itself back into the game and eventually they solved the Rebel defense. When the game turned into an up-and-down affair, the first great play or major defensive error was going to decide the winner and SDSU made the play.

The Rebels are on the road for the the next two weeks and will get a number of opportunities to get that first victory and come home with a winning record.

Billy Jones Named To New Zealand Olympic Qualifying Team

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – One of the newest members of the UNLV men’s soccer team will be spending his September competing at the international level, as junior defender Billy Jones has been selected to the New Zealand Men’s U23 Team that will be playing in the Olympic Qualifiers in Fiji Sept. 21-Oct. 5.

The Oly-Whites (as the Olympic team for New Zealand is known), is the top-seed in Group A, which also includes Solomon Islands, American Samoa and Samoa. Group B consists of Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Tonga. The winner of qualifying tournament will earn the lone berth available to the region for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Jones joined the Rebels this summer as a transfer after spending his first two seasons at New Mexico. He started all 34 games over his two seasons with the Lobos, and earned Third-Team All-Conference USA honors his sophomore season. 

The Auckland, New Zealand made his first start for the Scarlet and Gray Friday night in the Rebels’ 2-1 double-overtime loss at UC Santa Barbara. That match was notable for New Zealand, as the Oly-Whites have called up three players currently playing Division I in the USA, and all three were in that contest. Joining Jones in making the trip to Fiji will be a pair of Gauchos, Hunter Ashworth and Noah Billingsley.

Three from UNLV Men’s Soccer Names Preseason ALL-WAC

Rebels picked fifth in preseason poll, one vote out of a three-way tie for third

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – UNLV men’s soccer placed a league-high tying three players on the 2019 Preseason Western Athletic Conference team, while the Rebels were picked fifth in the preseason preseason coaches poll, just one vote out of a three-way tie for third, the league office announced Wednesday. This marks the third time since 2015 that UNLV has three players on the preseason team.

Senior midfielder Timo Mehlich, (Mönchengladbach, Germany) picks up his third preseason All-WAC mention. Mehlich is a two-time All-WAC honoree who posted 10 points a year ago off three goals and four assists, despite playing through an injury-plagued season. Junior forward Marco Gonzalez (Las Vegas) makes his second straight appearance on the preseason all-conference team. He’s coming off a stellar season in which he finished in the top five of the WAC in both goals (10) and points (23) , on the way to First-Team All-WAC and Third-Team All-West Region accolades. Making his first appearance on the preseason team is senior defender Tyler Allen (Honolulu, Hawaii), who has started 45 games over the past three seasons on the Rebels’ backline.

UNLV return seven of 11 starters from last year’s squad that posted a 10-10-1 mark. The Rebels received 87 points to place fifth overall, just one point behind Air Force and Grand Canyon, both with 88 points. Favored to win the 2019 WAC title is Seattle with 112 points, while UTRGV was selected second with 104 points. The top seven teams in the WAC will advance to the league’s postseason tournament, hosted this year in Colorado Springs, Colorado by Air Force.

Tickets are on sale now for the 2019 UNLV men’s soccer season. Season tickets are just $35 for adults, $25 for UNLV faculty/staff and seniors. Single game ticket prices this season are $8 for adults, $6 for faculty/staff and seniors, though a special internet price of $5 is available for all tickets bought online at UNLVTickets.com, good up to the night before game day. For the second straight year, all students in elementary, middle and high schools (with a school ID) will receive free admission to the sports of men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, women’s basketball, softball and baseball. Kids not yet of elementary school age will continue to receive free entry to all UNLV Olympic Sports.  

2019 WAC Preseason Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Poll

Place Team (1st place votes) Votes1. Seattle (5) – 112
2. UT Rio Grande Valley (2) – 104T3. Air Force (3) – 88T3. Grand Canyon (1) – 885. UNLV – 876. San Jose State (1) – 777. Utah Valley – 758. Cal Baptist – 499. CSU Bakersfield – 37T10. Houston Baptist – 27T10. Kansas City – 2712. UIW – 20

2019 Preseason All-WAC Team
William Akio, Sr., F, UT Rio Grande Valley
Kyle Edwards, Sr., F, UT Rio Grande Valley
Marco Gonzalez, Jr., F, UNLV
Declan McGlynn, So., F, Seattle U
Max Allen, Jr., MF, San José State
Julian Avila-Good, Sr., MF, Seattle U
Timo Mehlich, Sr., MF, UNLV
Tyler Allen, Sr., D, UNLV
Nick Blessing, Sr., D, Air Force
Thomas Mickoski, Sr., D, Seattle U
George Tasouris, So., GK, Grand Canyon

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Kyle Edwards, Rio Grande Valley

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
George Tasouris, Grand Canyon

Eugene ‘Gene’ Gorlick

On behalf of myself, the UNLV Men’s Soccer program, alumni, and all of our families, I would like to send our sincerest condolences to Jeanne and the Gorlick Family, on the recent passing of Gene Gorlick.  

His impact on my experience with the UNLV team from 1983-86 was immeasurable. My gratitude and thanks for all he did to enhance the soccer culture in the City of Las Vegas and State of Nevada runs deep, as Gene influenced hundreds of youth in our community for many years prior to, and after, my time as a player at the University! 

His contributions were felt on the field, in the classroom, and among the community!  Gene will be missed and our program is a better place because of his presence in the soccer world. 

My Prayers, God’s blessings, and all of our amazing memories of this man!

Rich Ryerson
Head Coach
UNLV Men’s Soccer

5th Annual Champions League Finals Watch Party

Join us Saturday, June 1st for our 5th Annual Champions League Finals watch party! The party will start at 11am and go to about 3pm. The kickoff is slated for 11:45am so make sure to get there in time!

Libations and food will be served and we be hosted by Linda and Frederic at their residence: 3018 Ashby Avenue.

If you would like to join us, please RSVP to rebelsoccer@unlv.edu.

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
world.
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
corner.
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
causing trouble.
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.