The Rebels entering the match were still hunting for its first goal of the season. Against Riverside, the Rebels controlled possession and scored three goals to beat the Highlanders 3-0 on Aug. 24.
“I’m grateful [UNLV scored its first goals] because they have worked so hard,” UNLV Head Coach Jenny Ruiz-Williams said.
The win against Riverside is the Rebels first win of the 2023 season and improves its record to 1-1-1.
Key contributors for the Rebels include goalkeeper Hanne Breur, who finished the game with a two-save shutout, and the goal scorers Kitty Jones-Black, Trinity Buchanan, and Mallie Ramirez.
Jules Dominguez controlled the midfield for UNLV with consistent passes, solid defense, and clearances, breaking defensive lines and creating dangerous attacking opportunities
Haley Halbersma made consistent attacking runs for the Rebels into the attacking third and put pressure on Riverside, attempting to break defensive lines with long passes.
Just over 10 minutes into the game, the Rebels first scoring opportunity was a shot by Nailah Harping barely missing the goal but catching Riverside in a dangerous position.
Both teams struggled to keep possession of the ball during the first 15 minutes of play.
UNLV had another scoring chance in the 21st minute with a shot just inches above the net by Dominguez.
A Rebels free kick in the last possession before the 25th minute hydration break taken by Dominguez led to a shot outside the 18 by Viviana Cera.
Lexie Yela made a dangerous dribble into the penalty area in the 30th minute, but UNLV defender Halbersma made a clean slide tackle to eliminate the scoring threat.
Villanueva was a consistent goal threat to Riverside in the later minutes of the game, making quick runs into the final third using a rapid pace to outrun the Riverside defenders.
“[Villanueva’s] really electric and exciting,” Ruiz-Williams said. “She’s such a young talent, and we are so happy that she is a Rebel.”
Riverside maintained a high possession, looking to make quick counterattacks in an attempt to catch the rebels off guard.
In the 40th minute, Jones-Black made a quick run to steal the ball from Riverside and made a deep run into the penalty area before hitting a low strike into the bottom left corner of the net putting the Scarlet and Gray up 1-0 at the end of the first half.
Riverside started the second half with an immediate attack down the left side of the pitch from kickoff.
Defender Halbersma quickly stopped the pressure.
Torie Reardon sent a high cross on goal in the 54th minute, with Riverside goalkeeper Cassia Souza able to safely catch it and prevent a scoring opportunity.
The Rebels had two scoring opportunities in the 57th minute with shots from Halbersma and Villanueva.
Halbersma’s shot was a powerful strike outside the 18-yard box that barely sailed over the bar. Villanueva made a quick run into the box and had a low strike across the goal, hitting the inside of the right post.
After the Rebels scoring opportunity, in the 60th minute, Araya took a turn right into the 18-yard box and took a low shot for the Highlanders, which UNLV goalie Breur safely handled.
Buchanan caught a long cross inside the 18-yard bow and struck a high shot, which was denied by the left hand of Souza in the 62nd minute.
Buchanan got another scoring opportunity in the 66th minute and hit a powerful rocket strike that went into the bottom left of the net to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead. Villanueva assisted the goal.
“They played it to Cassie [Villanueva] then Cassie played me through, and I happened to put it in the back of the net,” Buchanan said. “It was good that we had good team chemistry and hopefully many more [goals] to come.”
Ramirez put the game away with a powerful strike into the left corner, too strong for the hands of Souza in the 71st minute of play.
“I think this [win] is going to get our momentum going and get [us] ready for conference,” Ramirez said.
UNLV finishes its homestand against the Idaho Vandals on Aug. 27 at 11 a.m. The game will be available to stream on the Mountain West Network.