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Men’s Soccer 10/2/19 Update from the Soccer Yoda

Soccer Yoda

Against Santa Clara the UNLV men’s soccer squad were pressed hard in the first minutes of each half. Although they survived the first period, Santa Clara scored two in the opening minutes of the second half and it cost the Rebels the game. 

UTRGV came into Peter Johann Stadium ranked in the top 25 nationally but having given #2 St Mary’s a stout battle, the Rebel’s shouldn’t have been awed by the visitor’s country-wide recognition. What did bother the home side was a combination of UTRGV’s quick attack, the strong wind, and UNLV’s repeated slow start. A fast push into UNLV’s half produced a corner at only 3 minutes and a short serve seemed to catch the Rebels by surprise. The Vaquero’s Arthur Rogers took the pass, fired a low ball across the UNLV goal where Angel Lopez hit it into the lower far net. The lightening fast goal indicated the quality of their opponents and only 12 minutes later Lopez hit a through ball to Juan Rivera which was borderline offside. The problem was that Rebel defenders stopped moving and the ball took a high bounce which Rivera poked past a surprised Lukas Betz. The 35 mph wind blowing in the Vaquero’s direction certainly helped them and adjusting to it was a problem for the Rebels. 

One positive attribute of this season’s squad has been UNLV’s resilience and after that second goal, the home team settled down and worked a possession-based offense that prevented any further danger from UTRGV’s offense by denying them the ball. At first the play into the visitor’s half did little to threaten their goal, but gradually the Rebels began making inroads into the Vaquero’s territory. UNLV adopted a 2-forward attack for this match instead of their standard 3 and the John Lyman/Marco Gonzales top began interacting with the Rebels expanded midfield to produce some quality strikes at the Vaquero’s goal. During this span Marco and Timo came close with only a last second disconnect between the two preventing a score. And at 39 minutes the Rebels frequent penetration down their right forced a UTRGV foul. Niko Clasen’s direct kick was parried toward the goal, Timo Mehlich fired a blast which blocked, the rebound was poked but unfortunately for UNLV the 4 shot spurt did not find the goal. Only 4 minutes later Skyler Goo fired a ball at the upper near corner (down UNLV’s right again) but keeper Andy Rios somehow got a hand on it and the Reb’s were still frustrated. Considering their top-level opponent, the howling wind blowing against them and the score, this 25-minute span might have been the best soccer played by the Rebels this year. They were patient, confident, mixed their attack with their possession and used their offensive movement force UTRGV’s defense into scrambling to preserve the shutout. Given the change of sides (and wind advantage) things looked optimistic for the second half. 

The problem playing with a strong wind at one’s back is mental as much as physical. The temptation to merely put the ball up into the wind will interrupt even the most mature of teams ground -based offenses and the tendency of wind-pushed through passes to run away from potential pass receivers can frustrate the best of teams. The second half found both of these effects stymieing UNLV’s attack. Granted, UTRGV didn’t offer much offense for the Rebels to defend against, but the home team didn’t find the success of the latter first half in the second. The Vaquero’s understood the challenge of defending their lead against the wind and an opponent who had rattled them in the first half and they were much more resolute in the second. The Rebels tried a mixture of long ball and possession attack 

and finally earned a couple corner’s in the 60th minute. Clasen has been typically on target with his free kicks and corners this season, but this time he was off on his connections. As time wore down, the Rebels tried moving personnel into better positions, but to no avail. The movement and passing which characterized that excellent period in the first half didn’t appear when needed most in the latter half and this produced a disconnect between the Rebels back line, who continued to play a patient possession game into the last stages of the game and their forward players who seemed to expect a more urgent , although less structured, hit-it-up-into-the-wind approach. The result was little productive offense other than the corners and UTRGV was happy to take the 2-0 result. 

The Rebels next opponents are a significant step down from the likes of UTRGV and St Marys. Although the coming matches are away, if UNLV can 1) find the quality they displayed in the 2nd quarter of the UTRGV match and 2) avoid playing to the level of their opponents, they could come back home in mid- October with a couple positive results to turn the season around. 

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.