The UNLV men’s soccer team ended their pre-season strong with a 3-1 win against Arizona Western, leaving the Rebels hopeful for their upcoming season.
“I think it was a great game against Arizona Western, which is a pretty strong team,” Head Coach Rich Ryerson said. “I think it gives me a good idea of where we are for the preseason.”
Aedson Kyra gave the Rebels the lead, scoring two goals back-to-back during the first half. Kyra returned this year after not being able to play the majority of the 2020-2021 season due to an injury.
“It feels really good to get back out here and score two goals,” Kyra said. “I am in a really good headspace after playing a lot this summer. The team is always backing me. My coaches are always backing me, always supporting me. I’m looking forward to having a really big season.”
The team finished the previous season in the conference 4-4-2 during a pandemic year. During the offseason, it was clear the team had been practicing. They are ready to improve upon that record and are confident in their efforts as a team.
“I feel good,” Gabriel Claudio said. “I think the boys put in a lot of work. We are all here for each other. We have each other’s backs everyday and we are going to keep getting better. It has been fun. It has been good to get back into it since COVID.”
Ryerson’s second half strategy certainly worked. Sticking with the plan he developed, a new squad began play after the first half. This new group extended the lead in the second half with a goal against a solid Arizona Western defense. Becca Rice scored an impressive goal, making it 3-0, ultimately benefiting the team and giving everyone more game experience.
After scoring the third goal, the Rebels showed room for improvement in the game as Haruki Nishimura from Arizona Western fought back with a goal.
“Little bit of a lack of focus after we scored that third goal, so that was unfortunate,” Ryerson said. “Getting our organization more focused on how we want to defend as a team, so there are things we go over the next couple of days to prepare for Gonzaga.”
As UNLV claimed a victory against the impressive Arizona Western, they look forward to their first game of the real season.
The Rebels head up to Washington to play their first game of the regular season against Gonzaga on Thursday, Aug. 26. The game will start at 7 p.m. PST.