A sour ending to the season for the Rebels

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players just for ball during a soccer game versus Dixie State. Photo by Isaac Garcia.

UNLV men’s soccer wrapped up its season Saturday on senior night, where the Rebels fell to a heartbreaking 3-1 loss against the Dixie State Trailblazers. 

The loss marks the conclusion of the season for UNLV, who finishes with a 7-11 record (3-8 in conference) and its third consecutive season under .500. 

Prior to the game, UNLV honored six players—Lukas Betz, Marco Gonzalez, Billy Jones, Aedon Kyra, Jesus Partida and Matthew Ridley—celebrating their final night in the scarlet and gray. 

Players were honored with commemorative numbered jerseys, framed with accolades the players earned throughout their career that donned the school colors.

The match’s opening stages were promising for the Rebels, a stark contrast to how the game would conclude.

UNLV jumped out to a quick 1-0 nothing advantage in the first ten minutes of the game. 

The Rebels’ counterattack applied pressure on the Dixie State defense and drew a foul in the box for a penalty shot. Senior Partida stepped up to the spot and sunk the penalty into the bottom left corner of the net to open the game’s scoring. It would be Partida’s ninth career and final goal in his time with UNLV.

Things began to unravel for the Rebels shortly thereafter.

At 29:30, defender Jones was called for his second foul of the match, having already been issued a yellow card. The referee hastily reached into his shirt pocket and retrieved a second yellow card for Jones, resulting in a red card and expulsion from the match. 

It was a disastrous turn of events for UNLV, but it wasn’t the last.

In the 55th minute, a Rebel goal that would have given UNLV a 2-0 advantage was disallowed on a narrow offside call. This proved to be the last substantial offensive chance the Rebels created in the evening.

Four minutes later, with the clock reading 58:46, the Rebels could hold no longer. 

Trailblazer Dominique Kossehasse found teammate Matt Lockwood unmarked in the center of the box against an outnumbered Rebel defense. Lockwood shot the ball into the top of the net past a leaping Betz to bring Dixie State even on the scoreboard at one goal apiece.

At the 63:39 mark, already down a player for the remainder of the game and just five minutes after receiving a yellow card for another infraction, UNLV defender Nick Williams was penalized for a foul on a loose-ball tackle. As he had already been warned by the referee, Williams was not forgiven, shown his second yellow card of the match and subsequently the disqualifying red card. 

UNLV played the remaining 27 and a half minutes 9-on-11. The disadvantages were too overwhelming to overcome.

After 23 minutes of intense defending, the dam broke for the Rebel back line. At 86:48, with just over three minutes left in regulation, Trailblazer Nikolai Shumov found open space in the penalty box and scored a devastating goal, giving his team a 2-1 lead. 

Two minutes later, taking advantage of UNLV’s all-out desperation attack in the final stages of a losing effort, Dixie State scored the dagger to put the game out of reach at 3-1.

The Rebels’ seven victories are the most in a season since 2018, the last time UNLV finished without a losing record. UNLV was 10-10-1 (5-5-1 MWC) in that season.

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