RIVAS LEADS UNLV MEN’S SOCCER TO 5-2 SENIOR DAY VICTORY OVER HOUSTON BAPTIST
Rebels move into third place in the WAC with the three-goal victory
Las Vegas native Joaquin Rivas made sure his Senior Day would be a successful one, as he scored a pair of goals and added an assist in UNLV’s 5-2 victory over Houston Baptist on Sunday afternoon in WAC men’s soccer action from Peter Johann Field. Now on a three-game win streak, the longest since the 2008 season, the Rebels have improved to 6-9 overall and stand at 4-3 in league play, good for third place and just one point behind Bakersfield. HBU had entered the game with the best overall record of all WAC teams, the loss now sets them back to 7-6-1 on the year, 2-4-1 in the conference.
“It was a very successful Senior Day for us, with Joaquin scoring twice while Joe Vitale playing good in the goal for us,” said UNLV head coach Rich Ryerson. “It was an exciting game for the fans, to score five goals in front of our home crowd. Now we need to take that same standard of play with us when we go on the road for the final games of the regular season. Earning three points with today’s win was big for us, we hope to keep picking up points over the next two weekends.”
The Rebels took control of the game quickly, scoring the afternoon’s first goal in the 10th minute, following a foul on the Huskies that set up a free kick from 35 yards out. Julian Portugal took the kick, and send the ball to the top of the box, where Jason Khamvongsa would jump up and head the ball to the far right post, giving UNLV the 1-0 lead on his first score of the year. The advantage grew to 2-0 in the 17th minute, when Aaron Goo sent a shot pass ahead to Rivas, who would outrace the defenders and a charging goalkeeper to the ball before sending in a shot from 15 yards out for the score.
With the first half winding down, Salvador Bernal came up with the highlight of the game, as a high pass was sent over to him just five yards outside the goal. Forced to turn his back to the goal to stop the ball, when as the ball came back up after hitting the ground, Bernal was left with no other option but a bicycle kick. He pulled that off to perfection, as the ball was blasted through goalkeeper Kevin Suarez to the back of the goal for the score. That put UNLV up by a 3-0 margin in the 42nd minute. UNLV’s shutout was snapped in the final seconds of the first half though, when Patrick Toh tapped in a cross from Kristopher Tyrpak with just 18 seconds to play before halftime.
The Rebels made sure there would be no comeback in the second half, adding a pair of goals to their total. The first came on a pass from Rivas to Rodrigo Fuentes, who scored his team-high sixth goal of the year in the 58th minute to put UNLV up 4-1. The final score came in the 80th minute, after freshman Kevin Partida was taken out in the box by Suarez, earning a penalty kick. Rivas would take the kick, and sent a low blast to the right side through Suarez for the goal, his second of the day, and that put UNLV up 5-1. The game ended with Houston Baptist’s second score of the day, and again it was tapping in a shot from close range after a cross from Tyrpak, with Kyle Berbison scoring the goal this time in the 90th minute.
UNLV finished the game with a 20-17 edge on shots, and 9-6 on shots on goal. Corner kicks were 6-3 in favor of UNLV as well. Vitale made four saves in goal for UNLV as he made the start on his Senior Day, while Suarez finished with four saves as well for the Huskies.
The Rebels will close out the regular season with three games on the road, beginning with a Friday, Nov. 1 contest at Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colo., starting at 4 pm (PT).