Making its third appearance in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Division I Women’s College Cup, the Utah soccer team played against No. 3 Florida State on Friday, Nov. 18 in Los Angeles. As the game neared its end in a 1-1 tie, the Utes managed to score in the 87th minute, taking the lead and winning the game 2-1.
Not only did Utah beat its opponent in an upset, but it made history as it will advance onto the third round for the first time in program history. The Utes will compete against Pac-12 foe USC on Sunday Nov. 20. Kickoff is set to begin at 3:00 p.m.
After junior Natalie Vukic scored early in the game to give her team a 1-0 lead over Florida State, the Seminoles quickly answered the Utes’ goal with their own, and they brought the score to 1-1. But as the game neared the final buzzer, it was freshman Haylee Cacciacarne who scored the winning goal off of a head shot that went straight into the net.
Head coach Rich Manning said that because of some strategy they had been using the last four or five games, Cacciacarne actually didn’t have a chance to play in any of those outings. But Manning kept telling her to stay ready and on Friday Manning found an opportunity to use her in second half. And as she played solid defense and scored the winning goal, Manning couldn’t be more proud of her.
“[Scoring the winning goal] was just unreal,” Cacciacarne said. “It felt amazing. I think we played very well. We came out knowing that we could win this game, and we just did what we knew what we could do the entire game and we won.”
As the team advances onto the next round, Cacciacarne and Manning both agree that the team needs to continue to play how they have been playing. Manning feels that at this point in the season, it is important that his team is ready to face any competition, any day. And, if they can do that, Cacciacarne thinks that her team will be just fine.
“It’s a thrilling moment for myself, for the team, for the program. We are just so thrilled and happy for the players and the staff that the players were able to come up with a great finish against a great program, and we get to play another day,” — Manning.