LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) -UNLV women’s soccer heads back out on the road after wrapping up a homestand that saw the Rebels go 3-1 to improve to 12-3 overall and 4-2 in conference play. Only five games remain and the Rebels will play the next four on the road before wrapping up the regular season with the annual Governor’s Series matchup against Nevada, Reno on October 27 at Peter Johann Memorial Field. Up next are two key matchups in Northern California, beginning with a Friday, October 13 contest at Fresno State at 7 p.m. followed by a Sunday, October 15 showdown between San Jose State and UNLV at 12 p.m., the top two teams on the conference leaderboard. Heading into the weekend just a point separates the two squads, so Sunday’s outcome is likely to have major implications for the Rebels’ chances of repeating as regular season champions for the first time in program history.
UNLV (12-3-0, 4-2-0) at Fresno State (6-5-3, 1-3-2)
Friday, Oct. 13
7 p.m. PT | Soccer and Lacrosse Field | Fresno, CA
After going 2-2 through the first two weekends of Mountain West play with narrow losses at New Mexico and against Air Force, the Rebels picked up their first weekend sweep in conference, taking down Colorado State and Wyoming at home. After UNLV suffered just its second shutout of the year against Air Force, the offense found itself again, scoring five goals in the two wins. Two of those goals came courtesy of redshirt sophomore Michaela Morris, who scored one in each game to propel the Rebels to victory. For her performance, Morris was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week and was named an Honorable Mention selection for Top Drawer Soccer’s National Team of the Week.
Friday’s win was also significant as it extended the Rebels’ streak of 48 games without losing two games in a row dating back to the end of September 2015.
The four-game road trip will continue next weekend with matches at Utah State and Boise State on Friday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 22, respectively.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
Fresno State enters the weekend having won just one conference game, a 3-1 win at Colorado State, but does have a pair of draws against Wyoming and San Diego State. Overall the Bulldogs are 6-5-3 and 1-3-2 in conference play. The Rebels lead the all-time series 5-3-1, which includes a 4-1 drubbing a year ago in Las Vegas. Despite its record, the Bulldogs have been successful on offensive this year, ranking second in points (58) and assists (20) and fourth in goals (19). They have struggled in conference play, however, as they rank in the bottom half of the conference in those categories in conference-only games.
UNLV at San Jose State could prove to be the key matchup in the conference this weekend as just one point separates the Spartans and the Rebels atop the conference standings. Both teams have four MW wins, so Sunday’s winner (depending on Friday’s results) can grab hold of a clearer path to the regular season title with just three games remaining. The Spartans have been middle of the pack both offensively and defensively, but have played every team tough throughout conference play. The Rebels will surely have revenge on their mind after SJSU spoiled their 2016 Mountain West home-opener with a 2-1 win - their only MW loss last year.
NCAA:The Rebels currently boast a top-30 offense in the country, ranking tied for 25th in total points (91), tied for 22nd in total goals (31) and tied for 27th in assists (28). Individually, senior Sophie Cortes is tied for 20th in the country in total points (23) and is tied for seventh in total assists (7). Senior keeper Jordan Sallee also appears in the top-50 rankings for goals-against average (0.715), coming in at No. 49. After the two victories, the Rebels moved up to No. 66 in the RPI rankings, the top ranking in the Mountain West.=
Mountain West:The Rebels lead the MW in every major offensive statistical category - shots (273), goals, points and assists, while they are second in goals-against-average (0.85). Cortes leads the league all the same categories - points, goals (8), assists and shots (51Senior keeper Jordan Sallee also sits atop the conference leaderboard in goals-against-average and is second in save percentage (.879) and is sixth with 55 saves on the year.
NEWS & NOTES
After two wins over the weekend, the Rebels are now 4-2 in the MW, jumping from a tie for fifth to a tied for second.
UNLV moved up to 13th in the United Soccer Coaches’ West Region rankings, their highest appearance of the season.
The Rebels are 8-1 at home and 4-2 on the road in 2017, with four of five regular season games remaining on the road.
The Rebels haven’t lost two games in a row in two years dating back to the end of September in 2015 - a span of 48 games. That streak will be on line Friday against Colorado State.
The Rebels have had two-separate four-game winnings streaks this season. Both were snapped on the road.
UNLV’s 8-1 non-conference record was the best start through nine games and best non-league winning percentage in program history. They finished 5-0 at home and 3-1 on the road.
The Rebels are 2-0 in overtime games this season, with both game-winners coming with less than three minutes left in the second overtime.
UNLV’s 14-straight regular season unbeaten streak that dated back to October of 2016 came to an end with the loss to Sacramento State on Sept. 1.
Chris Shaw is in his fourth year with a 48-24-5 overall record.
The Rebels were picked to finish third in the Mountain West preseason coaches poll, their highest spot in the poll since 2013. San Diego State and San Jose State were picked to finish one-two, but UNLV’s five first-place votes were the most of any school.
Akubuilo, the reigning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, collected several preseason honors. She became the first Rebel to be named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, the most prestigious award in collegiate soccer. She was also named to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Women’s DI Best XI Third Team and is ranked No. 32 on the site’s Women’s Collegiate Top 100.