Announcements

Rebels Add Two Signees In Fall Period

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – A pair of junior college players, Gabriel Claudio and Matthew Ridley, have signed NLI’s to play for the UNLV men’s soccer team starting in the fall of 2020, head coach Rich Ryerson announced Thursday.

Claudio is a JC transfer from Yavapai Community College where he played center back while helping the Rough Riders to a 15-4 record and a conference title in 2019. He was a first team All-NJCAA All-Region team selection while helping the Roughriders record ten shutouts and a 0.61 GAA. He also scored four goals and added a pair of assists for the season. A native of Yuma, Arizona, he was a three-time starting forward for a Cibola HS squad that finished third in the state tournament his junior year and was 30-7-3 overall during his final two seasons on the team. Coming into his senior season he was a two-time first team all-state selection and claimed conference Player of the Year honors in 2017. Claudio also spent two seasons on the football team, playing kicker, free safety and wide receiver. He earned City Player of the Year recognition and first team all-state honors as a junior in 2017 after setting every major receiving and touchdown record in Yuma County history. He also was a first-team all-state selection on defense as a sophomore. 

Ridley, a native of Hartlepool, England, played his first year of collegiate ball at Lander University where he helped them to a 16-2-3 record,  the South East Regional championship and a spot in the NCAA Elite Eight. Ridley played this past season at Richard Bland College, and was both team captain and an all-region first-team selection his sophomore season. While in school in England, Ridley was a center back for Hartlepool Sixth Form College’s squad and served as the team captain, including for the designated ECFA National team. He was named the school’s Athlete of the Year in 2018 while also earning Managers Player of the Year award.

“We couldn’t be more excited about our opportunity to reinforce our defensive unit with two JC transfers that will bring experience, maturity and a competitive edge to our backline,” said Ryerson. “Gabriel brings in a very humble and aggressive athletic style of defending, and I believe he will serve in multiple capacities for our defense. He is a a multi-sport athlete that has excelled at Yavapai, a very strong JC nationally ranked program. Matthew meanwhile will give us a huge presence in the back with his strong leadership communication skills and physique that will enable us to really challenge for a conference championship.”

Jenny Ruiz-Williams Chosen To Lead Women’s Soccer Program

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – Jenny Ruiz-Williams has been named the new head women’s soccer coach at UNLV, Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois announced Tuesday.

A former Rebel standout as a student-athlete from 2001-04, she returns to her alma mater after serving as an assistant coach at Cal State Northridge, then Oregon State.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Jenny rejoin the Rebel family and are thrilled to welcome back one of our own to begin her head-coaching career,” Reed-Francois said. “From our initial conversation, her passion for UNLV was evident. She personifies our core values and has the energy to build a championship program.”

This past season, Ruiz-Williams was instrumental in the Beavers’ success as they recorded their best mark in eight years (11-6-2). As part of a first-year coaching staff, she assisted in a remarkable turnaround as the team had its best start to a season in program history, going 8-0-0 after the 2018 squad finished with an overall record of 2-17-0.

Ruiz-Williams coached an OSU defensive unit that allowed just 19 goals over the course of the season, including only three during non-conference play. Under her leadership, the team combined for four consecutive shutouts for the first time since 2007. OSU had two Top 100 Freshman recognitions along with players selected to the National Team of the Week as well as National Player of the Week honors. Additionally, the team received the 2019 United Soccer Coaches’ Academic Award with a 3.42 grade point average.

“I want to thank Desiree for this opportunity,” Ruiz-Williams said. “She is an amazing leader and I am thrilled to work under her guidance. A huge thank you to my entire family for their never-ending support, and I would also like to thank Mallory Poole, Chris Pugh, the search committee, the UNLV Soccer Foundation and all of the wonderful people that I was blessed to interact with during this process.”

Ruiz-Williams also has served as a coach for the Real SoCal Soccer Club, a director and coach for the Nashville Football Club and she has worked as a selection and district training coach for the Tennessee Olympic Development Program and Player Development Program.

“I am blown away by the growth, innovation and camaraderie within the UNLV Athletics Department,” Ruiz-Williams said. “There is a new chapter being written in the history of UNLV Athletics and it is something you don’t want to miss out on.”

During her four-year playing career with the Rebels, Ruiz-Williams helped the team become one of the top defenses in the Mountain West and earned All-MW recognition twice. She was a part of the UNLV team that won a regular-season conference title and clinch its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2004. She was also named to the All-MW Tournament squad as a senior. Prior to attending UNLV, she was a U-16 national champion and U-17 national runner-up.

“Jenny has great familiarity with youth soccer in California and throughout the West Coast, which will be invaluable for our program, and her tenacious spirit was unmatched through this process,” Reed-Francois added. “Thank you to Mallory (Poole) and Chris (Pugh) for their outstanding leadership during this search. We had a very strong pool of candidates.”

The seventh head coach in UNLV women’s soccer history, Ruiz-Williams competed for the Mexican National Team at the highest level, earning medals at three Pan American Games, qualifying for the Olympics and playing at the FIFA World Cup. Her professional career extended beyond her national playing time, completing stints with both the Bay Area Breeze (Women’s Premier Soccer League) and Seattle Reign FC (National Women’s Soccer League) before returning to the college game to begin her coaching career.

“Coming back to Peter Johann Memorial Field with the Rebels is truly a dream come true for me,” Ruiz-Williams said. “My husband and I are so grateful for the experiences we enjoyed as Rebel student-athletes and for the positive impact the university had on us. It is now my privilege to be able to serve the school, its amazing student-athletes and the incredible Las Vegas Valley community that I love so much.”

Ruiz-Williams earned her communications degree at UNLV in 2005 and also holds a master’s degree in education from Loyola Marymount (2007). She is also a licensed United States Soccer Federation National A- Senior Coach and a Regional Coach with the Olympic Development Program.

She is the sixth UNLV graduate in any sport to go on to become a head coach at the school and she is married to former UNLV swimming & diving student-athlete Kevin Williams. The couple has two children, Paige and Levi.

Mehlich Sets Record With Fourth Straight All-WAC Award

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – A pair of UNLV Rebels picked up season honors Tuesday night, as the Western Athletic Conference announced its postseason men’s soccer awards at the pre-tournament banquet in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Timo Mehlich was a first-team honoree while Billy Jones was an honorable mention selection.

Mehlich is the first Rebel to ever earn All-WAC honors four straight years, and the first Rebel to be named all-conference four years in a row since Sal Bernal was All-MPSF in 2010 and 2011 and All-WAC in 2012 and 2013. A senior midfielder and native of Mönchengladbach, Germany, Mehlich finished third in the conference with 11 goals on the season, and was fourth in total points with 23, both team highs. He had three multi-goal games during the season, starting with two goals in a minute span in a win at Pacific that earned him WAC Player of the Week honors. Mehlich also scored twice in the second half to rally UNLV past San Jose State for a 2-1 victory, while during his first career hat trick that came in a 4-1 win over Kansas City, two of his three goals came in a 63-second span.

Jones, a junior defender from Auckland, New Zealand in his first year with the Rebels after transferring from New Mexico, earned all-league honors despite missing the first three games of the WAC season while starting for the New Zealand Olympic Qualifying Team in an Olympic Qualifier tournament in FIJI. He helped his country earn a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, then came back to the team and promptly helped them to a four-game unbeaten streak. With Jones in the lineup, the Rebels went 4-3-1 in league play, as he anchored the Rebels’ defensive backline.

Women’s Soccer Head Coach Chris Shaw’s Contract Will Not Be Renewed

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – UNLV women’s soccer head coach Chris Shaw’s contract will not be renewed, Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois announced Thursday.

The Rebels compiled a 6-13-1 overall record during the 2019 season, including 2-8-1 in conference play. Shaw spent the last six seasons leading the program.

“We would like to thank Coach Shaw for his commitment to leading our soccer team over the last six seasons,” Reed-Francois said. “However, in evaluating the overall program, we have decided to move in a new direction.” 

Shaw’s contract expires on Dec. 31, 2019. A national search will begin immediately. 

Chris Shaw Career Head Coaching Record

Year     Overall     Conference
2014    9-8-2         4-6-1
2015    11-10        6-5
2016    16-4-3      8-1-2
2017    13-7         5-6
2018    11-6-3      5-4-2 
2019    6-13-1      2-8-1

Brooks Named Outstanding Rebel Of The Week

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – UNLV women’s soccer freshman Marcella Brooks was named the Outstanding Rebels of the Week, the school announced Wednesday.

The award goes to the student-athlete(s) who turned in the best individual performance during the previous week of competition from Monday through Sunday as voted on by the UNLV Athletic Communications department. The Las Vegas native earned the weekly honors after receiving MW Defensive Player of the Week. After UNLV’s top two goalies were lost for the season with injuries, the freshman midfielder moved to goalkeeper, playing the position in a game for the first time since the age of nine. In her two games as the Rebels’ goalkeeper, Brooks recorded back-to-back shutouts in a 2-0 win over UNR and a 1-0 victory over Southern Utah. She faced nine shots and came up with five saves in two matches, including four saves against the Wolf Pack. She took almost every free kick in the two games, and recorded an assist against UNR after placing a free kick 40-yards from goal, where it was headed in for a 2-0 lead to seal the game.

2019-20 Outstanding Rebel of the Week Award Winners
Sept. 4 – Shelby Capllonch, Volleyball
Sept. 11 – Shelby Capllonch, Volleyball
Sept. 18 – Timo Mehlich, Men’s Soccer
Sept. 25 – Alex Kobelt, Men’s Tennis
Oct. 2 – Mariena Hayden, Volleyball
Oct. 9 – Jack Trent, Men’s Golf 
Oct. 16 – Javin White, Football
Oct. 23 – Mariena Hayden, Volleyball
Oct. 30 –  En-Pei Huang and Izumi Asano, Women’s Tennis
Nov. 6 – Marcella Brooks, Women’s Soccer 

Bosch Earns MW All-Newcomer Honors

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – UNLV women’s soccer had one player receive Mountain West season honors Monday as freshman Lourdes Bosch was named to the MW All-Newcomer, the league office announced Monday.

Bosch, a Las Vegas native, tied for the team lead in goals this season with four, while her eight total points ranked her third overall. Both numbers were the highest of any freshman on the Rebel squad. One of her goals in league play came in the Rebels’ 2-0 victory over Colorado College She appeared in all 11 conference games and started eight for UNLV.

Brooks Named MW Defensive Player Of The Week

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – UNLV women’s soccer closed out its season on a winning note with two straight wins this weekend, and one of the key players behind those wins was honored Monday as freshman Marcella Brooks was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week.

Brooks is normally a midfielder on the Rebels, but was pressed into service as the team’s starting goalkeeper after UNLV lost its top two goalkeepers to season-ending injuries the previous weekend. Playing the goalkeeper position for the first time in a game since the age of nine, Brooks played a big role in helping UNLV post a back of shutout victories, 2-0 over UNR (Nov. 1) and 1-0 over Southern Utah (Nov. 3) in the season finale. Against the Wolf Pack in a Silver State Series contest, Brooks faced nine shots and came up with her first four career saves. In the win over the SUU Thunderbirds, she was credited with one save as well.

The Las Vegas native also gave the Rebels a big weapon with her leg, as she took all of the Rebels’ free kicks in the first two-thirds of the field, sending a good number of them into the box. That included one in the 69th minute that Malika Markham headed into the box for an insurance goal to seal the 2-0 victory for UNLV, and Brooks was credited with an assist on the play.

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.