Regular Season Champs!|
Nov. 9, 2014
PHOENIX, Ariz. (UNLVRebels.com) -
UNLV MEN'S SOCCER
The UNLV men's soccer team won its first conference championship in 27 years on Sunday afternoon after closing out the WAC regular season with a 2-1 victory at Grand Canyon. With the victory, the Rebels finished league play at 7-2-1, which ties for the second-highest wins in conference play in team history.
Overall UNLV now stands at 13-4-1, the most wins for the program since 1987 (14) and tied for sixth-best all-time. The last time the Rebels won a league title was in 1987 in the Big West.
"It's an amazing feeling to watch our players celebrate winning the WAC title today," said UNLV head coach Rich Ryerson. "They have worked so hard, not only today but the previous four years, to rebuild a program that was left for dead. In just a short amount of time, with disciple and hard work, they have turned it around completely. "
As the No. 1 seed in this week's conference tournament, UNLV receives a first-round bye, and will meet the winner of No. 4 UMKC and No. 5 San Jose State on Friday at 4:30 pm in the semifinals. This year's tournament is hosted by Seattle University, with the championship game scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 16 at 1 pm.
The Rebels were in control of the game from the start, holding GCU to just three shots on goal, and only three total shots in the first half. UNLV took a 1-0 lead in the 43rd minute when senior defender Kyle Mellies scored his fifth goal of the season, a lob shot over GCU goalkeeper Luca Licciardi. Jason Khamvongsa and Corey Ackley assisted on the play.
A yellow card on the Antelopes next to the Rebels' next score, as it set up a free kick just outside the box in the 61st minute, Khamvongsa took the kick, blasting it high into the goal for his third score of the year and a 2-0 UNLV edge. The Rebels nearly came away with the road shutout, holding the Lopes off the board until a yellow card was called on UNLV in the 90th minute. That free kick was taken by Al Sanchez Garcia, who scored on a shot to the left side, to account for the final 2-1 score.
UNLV's final shot total was 16-8, and 6-3 on shots on goal. The Rebels took all nine corner kicks of the game. Ryan Harding posted a pair of saves in goal for UNLV, while Licciardi made four for GCU.
"We held Grand Canyon to only one goal in final seconds," said Ryerson. "We did a great job of team defending today. I'm extremely proud of my players and especially our seniors - Sal, Ryan, Kyle, Connor, Julian, Sebastian, and Ricky on their leadership and commitment to the program."