REBELS LOOK TO CLINCH POSTSEASON BERTH AT UNR THURSDAY
UNLV can secure its spot in the Mountain West Tournament with a tie or win in the Silver State Series showdown Thursday in Reno
The postseason hopes of the UNLV women’s soccer team all come down to its final regular season game Thursday as the Rebels head to Reno to face rival UNR in the women’s soccer installment of the Silver State Series, the annual all-encompassing competition between the two schools presented by IBEW and Nevada Donor Network. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. at Mackay Stadium and the game will be streamed live on the Mountain West Network.
UNLV will enter the matchup at 12-7 overall and 5-5 in Mountain West play. By weekend’s end, the top six teams in the standings will qualify for next week’s Mountain West Tournament in Boise and the Rebels currently sit in sixth place with 15 points – two points better than seventh-place San Jose State at 13. UNLV can clinch a postseason berth with a tie or a win over the Wolf Pack as any scenario that ends with UNLV and San Jose State tied would favor the Rebels by way of their head-to-head win over the Spartans. A loss doesn’t completely eliminate the Scarlet and Gray, but it would take the outcome out of the Rebels’ hands.
The Rebels are playing their best soccer of the season at the right time as they have won four of their last five and five of their last seven. The stretch is even more impressive considering they started league play 1-4 after some tough losses and sat in last place midway through the conference slate. Two of those five recent wins came over the first place team in the conference at the time- a 2-1 win over New Mexico at home on Oct. 10 and a 3-0 blanking of Fresno State on senior day on Oct. 24.
As head coach Jenny Ruiz-Williams pointed out, UNLV has been playing with its backs against the wall over the last couple weeks, needing to essentially come away from every game with points to stay alive in the hunt for the postseason. Playing under that pressure should bode well for the Rebels if they are able to secure the spot in a tournament that has a one-and-done format.
A key factor in UNLV’s success over the last three weeks has been junior midfielder Lourdes Bosch, who has been on an absolute tear offensively. Bosch almost single-handedly won both games for UNLV last weekend as she delivered on almost identical game-winning free kick goals in wins over San Jose State and Fresno State. The score to win 1-0 over the Spartans on Friday was significant in multiple ways, none more than holding the tie breaker over SJSU. The Las Vegas native also assisted on the second and third goals against the Bulldogs to thwart any chance of a comeback for Fresno State. For her performance, Bosch earned her first career Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week award.
The Rebel defense has also been strong during this stretch and super senior Samantha Bailley returning from injury only strengthened the back line in front of redshirt freshman keeper Riley Liebasack. Liebsack has started the last seven games for UNLV and recorded four shutouts, including the two last weekend, which earned her the Mountain West Defensive Player and Freshman of the Week. It was the first time since 2018 the Rebels had swept the weekly league awards.
UNLV will need to be firing on all cylinders against the Wolf Pack as playing on a turf field at the football stadium presents its own challenges. The Rebels ran into that last season when they fell to UNR 2-1 on the last weekend of the season in Reno to split the series in the spring. While UNR comes into the game at 10th in the standings, the Wolf Pack have been competitive in conference play at 3-5-2. Overall, UNLV owns a 13-2-3 record against its rival all time.
Fans can watch the game live on the Mountain West Network and can follow through live stats. All links are available on UNLVRebels.com. Fans can also follow the action with in-game updates via Twitter on the official team account @UNLVwSoccer.
- Points: Lourdes Bosch (19); Marcella Brooks (10); Hevani Haunga (10); Alysa Caso (7); Nailah Harpring (4); Kennedi Schmidt (4)
- Goals: Lourdes Bosch (6); Hevana Haunga (5); Marcella Brooks (4) Alysa Caso (3); Nailah Harpring (2); Kennedi Schmidt (4)
- Assists: Lourdes Bosch (7); Marcella Brooks (2); Alyssa Granados (2)
- Saves: Riley Liebsack (30); Taylor Book (25);
News & Notes
- UNLV finished its non-conference slate 7-2, winning seven of eight after a season-opening loss; best non-league record since 2018.
- Since starting the conference season 1-4, UNLV has gone 4-1 with one regular season game to play against its in-state rival
- The Rebels have suffered three overtime losses during conference play in 2021
- UNLV swept the Mountain West weekly awards for the first time since 2017 after junior Lourdes Bosch was named offensive player of the week and redshirt freshman keeper Riley Liebsack earned freshman and defensive player of the week honors on Oct. 25. Hevani Haunga also earned the offensive award early in the season on Aug. 30
- UNLV opened the season at home for the ninth time in the last 11 seasons and 16th time since the program’s inaugural year in 1998.
- The 2021 campaign marks head coach Jenny Ruiz-Williams’ second season at the helm of the Rebel women’s soccer program.
- After seeing only four players record hat tricks five times over the first 22 seasons in program history, two Rebels have now done it just over a season into Ruiz-Williams’ era. Hevani Haunga accomplished the feat against UC San Diego and sophomore Nailah Harper did it during her freshman campaign in the spring of 2021 at San Jose State
- Ruiz-Williams is the first UNLV women’s soccer alumnae to lead the program
- In the conference-only spring 2021 season, UNLV went 5-4-1 overall and finished tied for fourth in league standings