Giving up goals early in each half forced the Seattle University men's soccer team to play from behind almost the entire day, but the Redhawks' efforts were not enough as UNLV held on for a 3-2 victory Sunday afternoon in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match at Championship Field.
"We gave up soft goals today. We came out flat and had to come back. The guys responded well at the end of the first half, but again we gave up an easy goal at the start of the second half," head coach Brad Agoos said. "The guys kept their head up and played hard right to the last second."
UNLV (3-11, 2-5 MPSF) struck first in the second minute of the match as the Rebels created a 3-on-2 rush, with Jonny Espinoza dribbling the ball up the middle before passing it to Robert Garcia. Garcia, on the right side of the field, fed a crossing pass to Salvador Bernal on the left side, and Bernal was able to slide the ball into the left corner of the net for his sixth goal of the season.
The Rebels had another golden opportunity in the fifth minute when Seattle U committed a foul just outside of the box, but Mike Mota's shot off the free kick hit the crossbar. After giving up seven UNLV shots, the Redhawks finally put on their own offensive pressure, beginning with a shot by Elliot Richards (Seattle, Wash.) off a corner kick in the 19th minute that was turned away by Rebel goalie Ryan Harding.
With 15 minutes left in the half, Mikey Ramos (Spokane Valley, Wash.) corralled the ball and pushed it forward into the box on the left side. His crossing pass was met by the head of Brandon Hamer (Carmichael, Calif.), who guided it past Harding into the net for his second goal of the season.
UNLV took back the momentum late in the first half, as a long pass by the Rebels was mishandled by Seattle U keeper Jake Feener (Rocklin, Calif.) at the top of the 18-yard box, and Nick Marshall was able to gain control and put the ball into the empty net in the 40th minute for his third goal of the season. The Rebels struck quickly in the second half, as another Seattle U foul close to the box led to a free kick, and Zach Kupfer was able to avoid the wall with his shot, putting it into the net just one minute after halftime.
Seattle U increased its offensive pressure, taking several shots that sailed wide as well as a couple that were stopped by Harding. In the 63rd minute, Hamer found Ramos in the box, and the junior college transfer crossed the ball to Richards, who was able to finish off the play to cut the UNLV lead in half.
Feener kept the Redhawks in the match with a couple of key saves off shots from Espinoza, but Seattle U was unable to convert on the tying goal as Harding also came up big, turning away shots by Ramos in the 77th minute and by Demaci Roussos (Sacramento, Calif.) in the 88th minute. Feener finished the match with five saves, while Harding was credited with six saves in the contest.
Seattle University (2-10-2, 1-6 MPSF) hits the road next weekend for conference matches at Air Force Friday, Oct. 28, and at Denver Sunday, Oct. 30. The Redhawks return home for their final regular season match Saturday, Oct. 5, against Cal State Bakersfield beginning at 1 p.m. at Championship Field.