LAS VEGAS ( — BJ Craig has been named the new head coach of the men’s soccer program at UNLV, Director of Athletics Erick Harper announced Thursday.

Craig comes to Las Vegas after serving as Oregon State’s associate head coach for the last four seasons. Prior to OSU, Craig held positions as assistant and associate head coach at Notre Dame over a 10-year span (2008-18), assistant coach at Louisville in 2007, and head coach for four years (2003-06) at Saint Francis University (Pa.).

“BJ has coached collegiate soccer at the highest levels over the past 18 years, including this past season’s top NCAA seed in Oregon State and with a national championship team at Notre Dame in 2013,” Harper said. “He has a clear vision for where he intends to take our program and understands the importance of student-athlete development and achievement, both academically and athletically. He has a strong recruiting plan and coaching philosophy and we are confident he is prepared to take UNLV men’s soccer to the next level.”

Craig brings a breadth of NCAA Tournament experience to the Rebel program as he helped guide the Beavers to the Big Dance three times, the Irish to nine tournament appearances and the Cardinals to one trip. Most notably, Craig was on the coaching staff when Oregon State made a run to the Elite Eight as the overall No. 1 seed in 2021 and when Notre Dame won the 2013 national title.

“I am thrilled with the opportunity to become the next head coach of the UNLV men’s soccer program,” Craig said. “I am thankful and fortunate to have worked alongside so many great people over the years and the same is true for me now at UNLV. I am grateful to Erick Harper, Chris Pugh, and the entire search committee for trusting me to lead this program going forward. I also want to recognize Rich Ryerson for his dedication and devotion as a player and coach over the years, along with the many alumni at UNLV who have given both on and off the field, helping to leave the jersey in a better place. We will continue to build on this legacy and make everyone proud. I can’t wait to get started.”

Along with coaching teams to national success, Craig’s squads have come out on top of their conference a combined five times – the most recent being the Beavers’ first-ever outright Pac-12 Championship this past season. Additionally, his Irish teams hoisted four conference trophies.

Under his leadership, Craig’s former players have developed into some of the best in the country. He coached a MAC Hermann Trophy winner, three All-Americans, one Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and 20 All-Pac 12 selections in Corvallis, as well as 24 MLS draft picks, 10 All-Americans and 40 all-conference honorees in South Bend.

Among the most notable former players to train with Craig at his previous coaching stops are five-time MLS All-Star and 2012 MLS Defender of the Year Matt Besler and 2012 All-Star Justin Morrow. The duo has also earned caps with the United States Senior National Team.

Throughout his 20-plus years of coaching, Craig has received various accolades. His recognition includes forming part of the 2021 United Soccer Coaches Far West Regional Staff of the Year, the United Soccer Coaches Glenn “Mooch” Myernick National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014, South Region Assistant  Coach of the Year in 2013 and NEC Coach of the Year in 2013. He was also named among College Soccer News’ Top Assistant Coaches list over a period of three straight years (2012-2014). 

The long list of Craig’s student-athletes’ achievements not only pertains to the soccer pitch, but also extends into the classroom as demonstrated by one CoSIDA Academic All-American and two CoSIDA Academic All-District honorees under his tutelage at Oregon State. During his tenure at Notre Dame, he helped produce 11 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and two United Soccer Coaches Scholar Athletes of the Year.

A former student-athlete himself, Craig lettered one year at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and earned two more letters after transferring to Gordon College. During his time at Gordon, he helped lead the Fighting Scots to a Commonwealth Coast Conference title in 1992. Shortly after his playing career, Craig served as assistant coach at Dartmouth (1998-2003) and his alma mater, Gordon College (1995-96). He is a member of the NSCAA and holds a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) B License.

Craig graduated with his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Gordon College in 1993 and later earned his master’s degree in education from UMass Lowell in 1997. He and his wife, Erin, have four children, Noah, Micah, Jonah and Mattea.

UNLV Men’s Soccer’s Rich Ryerson to Coach Final Season This Fall

UNLV men’s soccer head coach Rich Ryerson announced Monday that the fall 2021 season will be his last leading the Rebel program.

“It has been an absolute honor to steward the UNLV men’s soccer team for the last 11 years, and I could not be more proud to serve one more season this fall,” Ryerson said. “I am so very proud of the accomplishments of all of our student-athletes through the years with our graduation rates, championships, Major League Soccer signings, and the tremendous volunteer work throughout our community.”

Ryerson, who will enter his 12th season as head coach this upcoming fall, took over the program in the Spring of 2010 after spending the previous two years as its assistant coach. In 2014, he led the team to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 26 years and subsequently recorded its first NCAA Tournament win in 29 seasons in 2016.

“We appreciate the many years of hard work and dedication that Rich has devoted to UNLV,” UNLV Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois said. “From a player to coach, Rich has made an incredible impact on so many student-athletes, our program and soccer in the Las Vegas Valley. While he is departing from this head coaching role, we know he will continue to be connected to UNLV Athletics.”

Ryerson led UNLV to the Western Athletic Conference’s regular season and tournament championships in 2014 and to the conference tournament title again in 2016. He was named the WAC Coach of the Year and NSCAA Region Coach of the Year in 2014.

“Rebel soccer is dear to my heart as an alumnus, as well as for my three brothers and nephew who represented the university as part of the program,” Ryerson continued. “I would like to thank Desiree for her confidence as I transition my career from the soccer field to my next opportunity. Additionally, thank you to the UNLV Soccer Foundation and our Valley’s soccer community for all of their support over the years.”

Ryerson, the fifth head coach in program history, met a challenge in 2010 when the program was in jeopardy of being cut because of the budget situation by leading its fundraising charge. Under his watch, five Rebel soccer players have heard their name called during the MLS Draft: Salvador Bernal in 2015, Bradley Kamdem in 2016, Danny Musovski and Kevin Partida in 2018, and Timo Mehlich in 2019.

One of four Ryerson brothers to play for the Rebel men’s soccer program (Rob, Kenny, Tim), Rich was a four-year starting defender/midfielder for UNLV from 1983-86 and led the team to three NCAA Tournament appearances along with three straight conference championships as a student-athlete. During his junior season, the Rebels posted a program-best 18-2-2 mark and a No. 4 final national ranking. That 1985 squad was inducted into the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.

A national search for his replacement will commence in the fall.


Gift to be allocated towards scholarships for both men’s and women’s soccer programs

LAS VEGAS ( – The UNLV Soccer Foundation has made a $40,000 donation to the Rebel Athletic Fund’s new D5 Momentum Fund 2.0 in a move to support both the men’s and women’s soccer programs during these unprecedented times, the athletics department announced Thursday.

“The UNLV Soccer Foundation is truly leading by example with this generous contribution,” said UNLV Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois. “The Momentum Fund is crucial in continuing our momentum toward creating a championship culture through the support of and investment in our student-athletes in all 17 of our sports programs at a time when it is needed the most.”

The $40,000 donation will be allocated evenly towards scholarships for both the men’s and women’s soccer programs.

“Our commitment today ensures the men and women of the UNLV soccer programs are supported during this health and humanitarian crisis,” said Dan Giraldo, UNLV Soccer Foundation President. “The board fully understands that these are unprecedented times where the health and safety of our student-athletes should remain a top priority and investing into the Momentum Fund is our way to help not only UNLV Soccer, but UNLV Athletics in this time of need. We hope that other foundations can step in, to the best of their abilities, and provide needed inspiration to their respective programs which will in turn assist the Momentum Fund and UNLV Athletics as a whole.”

“The generosity and support of the UNLV Soccer Foundation for both the men’s and women’s programs has been absolutely incredible since it was established four years ago,” said UNLV men’s soccer head coach Rich Ryerson. “This gift to the Momentum Fund illustrates the foundation’s dedication, not only to UNLV soccer, but also to UNLV Athletics. During my time serving as the head coach, this community has supported the program beyond expectations. On behalf of both the men’s and women’s soccer programs, I would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the UNLV Soccer Foundation board members!”

“The support of the UNLV Soccer Foundation has been unbelievable,” said UNLV women’s soccer head coach Jenny Ruiz-Williams. “I am constantly filled with joy – day-to-day and moment-to-moment – by their encouragement, generosity, and selflessness as they invest in the future of both the men’s and women’s programs.”

The Momentum Fund originally debuted in March of this year, before evolving into the D5 Momentum Fund 2.0 in August as the athletics department, which is facing unprecedented financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, looks to overcome the loss of ticket and premium sales revenue. The new focus has a goal of raising $1.5 million from donors by the end of the calendar year.

For more information on the Momentum Fund 2.0 click here, or to make a gift click here.

UNLV’S Timo Mehlich Drafted 52nd Overall in MLS Superdraft by Seattle Sounders

UNLV senior midfielder Timo Mehlich became the latest Rebel to reach the professional level as he was selected with the final pick of the second round (52nd overall) by the Seattle Sounders Thursday in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft in Baltimore, Maryland. Mehlich is the fifth Rebel to be drafted by the MLS over the past six years and first second-round pick since Danny Musovski went 31st overall in the 2018 Superdraft.

“I couldn’t be more delighted and proud of this accomplishment for Timo,” said UNLV head coach Rich Ryerson. “The city of Seattle has been a great venue for him to play for in the past, it’s a great situation for him and we know he will be a great representative of our program.” 

He recently became the first Rebel to ever earn All-WAC honors four straight years after being selected first team all-conference, while he also picked up United Soccer Coaches All-Far West Region Second team honors, the second regional honor of his outstanding career for the Scarlet and Gray. A 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.

Previous Rebels that were drafted by the MLS include: Victor “Boomer” Arbelaez as the 30th pick in 2005, also by San Jose, Rod Dyachenko as the 31st pick in 2006, Danny Cruz, 41st in 2008, Salvador Bernal, 72nd in 2015, Bradley Kamdem, 58th in 2016, and in 2018 two Rebels were drafted, Musovski (31st by San Jose) and Kevin Partida (58th by San Jose).

Rebels Add Two Signees In Fall Period

LAS VEGAS ( – 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 ( – 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.