Both UNLV and Santa Clara came into the game with a hunger to win after having lost its previous game with UNLV falling 1-0 to UC Irvine and Santa Clara just barely falling short 3-2 to Georgetown after an intense second half. The Rebels despite being 1-0 down were able to draw energy from their home ground and complete a 2-1 comeback giving them their first win of the season.
Standout players of the match include UNLV goalscorers Brophy Howard who equalized the game just before halftime and Théo Minard who scored the winner. Along with them are teammates Tyler Ware who assisted for Howard’s goal and Nico Lopez who put in an amazing ball for Minard. Joshua Dabora was a key contributor for Santa Clara putting them on the scoreboard.
The Rebels hit the ground running two minutes into the game. Howard took a chance for the top right corner but the ball would go just off the target.
As the clock struck 12, Santa Clara would have its first chance with a shot from Keagan Rhodes that would go wide to the left.
The game would be a rough one with multiple fouls just in the first few minutes of the game including the first yellow card of the game for UNLV Minard just 14 minutes into the game.
Santa Clara would then turn up the heat as Keagan Rhodes would go for a low left shot but was denied by UNLV goalkeeper Niclas Becker.
The game would continue to be a rough one with three more fouls from UNLV and one more foul from Santa Clara.
In the 26th minute Santa Clara would finally break the deadlock with an assist from Yoni Aidlberg to Dabora who would slot it away and put his team on the scoreboard.
Three minutes after his goal, Dabora would be substituted for Brandon Zelaya
With a goal in hand, Santa Clara began to step up its game with a shot from Damani Osei in the 30th minute that would go out missing the top left corner.
Santa Clara would continue the attacking opportunities with a shot from Malte Furst in the 34th minute that was blocked and then right after a second opportunity from Furst that would go wide to the left.
UNLV would then make a substitution taking out Gabe Sanchez and bringing in Ethan Gonzalez in the 35th minute.
Bringing in Gonzalez would prove to be a masterful substitution as a minute after he came in, Gonzalez along with Ware would create a chance for Howard to put the ball in the back of the net and equalize the game before the end of halftime as Santa Clara found themselves back in square one despite all their efforts.
The goal fired up the Rebels to hunt for a winner with a shot from Ware in the 40th minute that would go wide to the left.
Before the end of halftime, Santa Clara would go on to commit three more fouls and one from UNLV.
The Rebels would take out Lucas Gelebart for Lopez which later in the game would prove to be the right choice after having been subbed off earlier in the game.
In the 46th minute, Caden Buckley from Santa Clara would take a chance but miss it going over the bar.
In the 52nd minute, Buckley would try again with a shot for the top right corner, however he was once again off target.
The Rebels would get its first chance of the second half with a bottom left strike from Lopez in the 54th minute that was denied by Santa Clara keeper Felix Schaefer who parried the ball away. Ware got to the rebound with a shot for the Rebels that was blocked by the Santa Clara defense.
In the 64th minute, Santa Clara would strike back with a shot from Brennan Mallet to no avail as it was off target.
With an intense stalemate with both teams fighting for a winner, the aggression continued with three fouls from Santa Clara and UNLV each.
UNLV Minard struck a low center shot that was safely handled by Santa Clara goalkeeper Schaefer in the minute 66:15,
Just 35 seconds later, Santa Clara Pierca Dyal would commit a foul in the attacking third giving UNLV a dangerous opportunity.
Lopez footed an inward curling cross which traveled over the heads of all the Santa Clara defenders and found Minard completely unmarked at the back post in the penalty area where he calmly headered the ball into the back of the net. UNLV took the 2-1 lead in the standoff.
UNLV would search to close the game down in the 69th minute with an opportunity from Kai Merril that would be unable to find the net.
In the 73rd minute would come the third yellow card of the game this time for UNLV Gelebart.
As time began to run out in the 80th minute, Aidlberg would attempt to find an equalizer however to no avail as it missed the target.
The last few minutes of the game were brutal with three fouls from Santa Clara and UNLV each along with a yellow card in the 83rd minute for UNLV Bryce Allred and then a yellow card for UNLV Lopez. The yellow card for Santa Clara was Noah Bohane in the 85th minute.
Santa Clara would have a final potential opportunity in the last minute of the game however the UNLV backline caught Santa Clara offside and the opportunity was gone.
The full time whistle blew and UNLV had officially won its first game of the season with a great comeback.
Ultimately UNLV while having less shots and less possession than Santa Clara throughout the game proved that what matters is taking advantages opportunities.
Even though UNLV had eight shots in comparison to Santa Clara’s 12, UNLV had two more on target than Santa Clara.
UNLV would also go on and score from a set piece freekick and three players of the five that contributed to the goals were substituted into the match showing a great use of its manpower and a great understanding between the players and the coach.
The Rebels made the most of every opportunity they had and never gave up which in the end led to victory despite facing adversity along the way.
The Rebels travel to Santa Barbara to face UC Santa Barbara on enemy soil Sep. 4 at 7:00 p.m. The game will be available to watch on ESPN+.