MORAGA, Calif. -- The 18th-ranked Saint Mary's men's soccer team opened its season on a positive note today, posting a 2-1 victory over UNLV in front of more than 500 fans at sun-drenched Saint Mary's Stadium.
The Gaels haven't lost a home opener since 2008 and have lost only once at home in their last 10 outings. UNLV fell to 0-2 on the opening weekend of the season.
"It's great to start out our season with a victory and, in particular, to win at home," said head coach Adam Cooper. "It is important to win at home, in front of our fans. Hopefully, they enjoyed today's game and continue to show such great support like they did this afternoon."
The Gaels travel to Sacramento State on Sunday, Sept. 2 before returning home to host a pair of games against nationally-ranked teams in CSU Bakersfield and Creighton on Sept. 7 and 9. Advance tickets are available by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx (4689) or visiting the tickets page on SMCGaels.com.
Saint Mary's, starting five players who were making their first NCAA Division I appearance, started the first half quickly. The Gaels outshot UNLV by an 8-2 margin in the first 45 minutes and earned the games first three corner kicks.
"I have high expectations for our freshmen," said Cooper. "They are doing a good job and I expect they will continue to do so. (After the Stanford exhibition) We tweaked couple of things and switched-up the lineup a bit. Our guys had a good week of training and were ready to play today."
For the game, the Gaels outshot UNLV by an 11-9 margin but the Rebels had five shots on frame compared to four for SMC. Saint Mary's took six corners, compared to just two for UNLV. SMC was called for 11 fouls, while UNLV commited seven.
Sophomore Ismail Adam, who did not play last season after appearing in nine matches as a freshman in 2019, scored the Gaels' first goal of the season in the 27th minute. The Santa Clara, Calif. native slotted a shot into the lower left corner from about eight yards out after Justin Howard and Garardo Mendoza combined for the assist.
In the 63rd minute, freshman left back Will Kendall sent an arching pass into the penalty box intended for Howard. But the Antioch, Calif. native was fouled in the air and the Gaels were awarded a penalty.
Senior Trevor Newquist, the team's leading returning scorer, calmly took the kick and placed it into the lower left corner to give Saint Mary's a 2-0 lead.
Just six minutes later, however, the Rebels scored their first goal of the season when Joaquin Rivas connected on a shot from 10 yards out off an assist from Robert Garcia to bring UNLV to within one goal with 21 minutes left to play.
The Gaels managed to retain most of the possession in the last 15 minutes of the game to come away with the victory.