By Tara Park
Few things have gone right for Nevada this season, but its season-ending 1-1 tie with UNLV provided hope.
“There was a lot riding on the game for us given the season we’ve had, and it’s the last game, it’s UNLV, and it’s the Governor Series,” said Wolf Pack head coach Melissa Price. “We played with pride for the program and for the seniors.”
Despite the freezing cold weather on Halloween night, the crowd screamed loud and clanged their cowbells for the five seniors on their senior night: Madison Lorenzen, Kellyn Morning, Laura Voss, Chrisalyn Fonte and Bobby Reilly.
Thirteen minutes into the game, the Wolf Pack struck first. Outside of the goal box near the 20-yard line, Fonte had the ball. While her teammates and the Rebels stacked up in the box expecting a pass, Fonte took a long shot. She placed the ball perfectly in the upper right corner of the goal-out of UNLV goalkeeper Jordan Sallee’s reach.
“[The goal] was pretty emotional,” Fonte said. “Especially with all of my family there in Mackay Stadium, it was a good way to end my college career.”
Fonte would end her career at Nevada ranked fifth all-time in goals, with 12.
“It’s a good accomplishment to put those stats up,” Fonte said. “It shows hard work pays off.”
However, UNLV did not stay behind for long. Just three minutes later, the Rebels’ Kristin Sankey scored from a free kick. The goal mirrored Fonte’s shot, outside the box on the 30-yard line, and sailed just over goalkeeper Devyn Bryar’s fingertips and into the back of the net.
“I felt like I let my team down a little bit, I knew I could have saved it if I had been in a better position,” Bryar said. “After that, I made sure nothing went by me.”
Nothing did, as the score remained deadlocked. However, that wasn’t without heavy pressure from the Rebels in the second half. After intermission, UNLV took eight shots and had five corner kicks, whereas Nevada took no shots on goal or corner kicks.
“We lost a lot of momentum,” Fonte said. “UNLV had a ton of shots on goal, but it kept us on our toes.”
Bryar blocked five shots on goal in the second half and nine total for the game. That’s been the story of the Wolf Pack’s season, as Bryar finished with a league-leading 106 saves — 26 more than the runner up.
“It proves what I can do as goalkeeper,” Bryar said. “It’s a very good statistic. Sometimes stats aren’t the best representation but this one is.”
The Rebels almost escaped with a victory during the second overtime, when a shot on goal just barely grazed the right goalpost.
With the tie, both teams received a point-and-a-half in the Governor Series, which the Wolf Pack currently leads 4.5-1.5.
Nevada finishes the season 4-14-2 (1-9-1 Mountain West) and dead last in the conference. The finish snaps a two-year streak of reaching the MWC Tournament.
The team started the season with 24 players, but lost four within the first two weeks, and went on a weekly average of 16-17 available players due to injuries.
“Given everything we had to deal with, a season of adversity, the ability for this team to show up and fight to win, we truly did that regardless of the scores,” Price said. “They never ever quit.”
Tara Park can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheSagebrush.