Jordan Jones found the smallest space he needed in the 91st minute of the contest Monday to send Oregon State past UNLV, 1-0, in the final match of the annual Hensor/Zaher Nike Classic on Paul Lorenz Field.
The senior’s game-winner came on a cross from Timmy Mueller, whose finish was initially touched by the keeper, but eventually found the foot of Jones, who summarily put the shot just past the goal line for the win.
“After a while there, it was a game of momentum,” said head coach Steve Simmons. “I thought we did well in the first half. Credit to UNLV, they got on the ball in the second half and so we had to dig in the trenches and to bend but not break.
“The ball, at the end of the day, fell the right way for us, because our guys were resilient and refused to get beat. The game went from soccer to a game of will and I thought we were superb that way, I’m so proud of them.”
Jones’ goal is the first of the season and 24th of his career, currently the active leader for OSU in goals and points, while Mueller earned the eighth assist of his storied career for the Beavers (1-1).
Redshirt-junior Ryan Vincent (Newberg, Ore.) posted the third clean sheet on his eighth career appearance behind two saves to earn his first win of the season.
Enrique Adame took the decision for the Rebels (1-1) with three saves, while Marquis Pitt and Timo Mehlich posted the lone shots on target for the visitors.
The first half of the match played out similar to OSU’s first contest in the Classic as both sides were limited in their opportunities. The Beavers fired off eight shots in the frame, with two coming on goal, while UNLV posted three of its own with only one save needed from Vincent.
The best chance Oregon State had to get on the board came later in the opening stanza as freshman Mitch Hammer (Cave Creek, Ariz.) took three corner kicks in the final seven minutes, all leading to OSU shots. Yet the visitor’s defense held firm as one shot was blocked, one was saved and the final was headed over the net by Mueller.
The second half saw a bit more action as the Rebels held a 6-4 advantage in shots, but the one chance on target happened early in the period as Vincent put a stop to Pitt’s attempt at the 46th minute.
Adame made his lone save of the second half at the 54th minute, after senior Jaime Miralles (Vinaros, Spain) put one on goal, to keep the 0-0 tie intact.
Neither side held a definitive advantage through the remainder of the second half, eventually carrying the deadlocked game into extra time, but OSU needed only 50 seconds to bury the game-winner as Mueller took a pass up the sideline and sent a finish into the box.
Jones ended up with the ball on his foot after Adame tried to punch it away, and the follow-up shot from the senior gave the Beavers their first win of 2017.
OSU will continue the nonconference portion of its schedule later this week in Spokane, Wash., for the Gonzaga Tournament. The Beavers will first face American University at 4 p.m. Friday.