Still seeking its first Pac-12 win of the season, the University of Utah soccer team (5-5-2, 0-3-1) faced the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal (11-1-0, 4-0-0) on Thursday on the Utah Soccer Field, where it came up short. Utah struggled to get a shot on goal for the entire first half, and it couldn’t secure a goal over its opponent by the end of 90 minutes.
“Stanford is a fantastic team,” said head coach Rich Manning. “I was very impressed with their game and they exposed things that we need to continue to work on. We have kind of taken a left turn in the last couple of weeks, and we need to get some things right. I didn’t like the second goal and that became the third goal, and there is a little bit of mental toughness we need to get back.”
The Utes started the game by playing defense for the first 10 minutes of the first half as Stanford took shot after shot, but the ball wasn’t able to find the back of the net for the Cardinal. Utah only managed to get the ball across half field a few times, but never close enough to get an opportunity to score. On the Utes’ first corner kick of the game, they couldn’t finish it off with a goal, and Stanford took control of the ball.
When the Cardinal got close to scoring its first goal of the game, the ball hit the post and deflected out of the box. After a quick turnaround, Stanford shot again, this time getting the first goal of the night to take a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute. For the rest of the half, the Utes tried to equalize the score, but Stanford held them off.
Utah was back to defending its goal in the start of the second half, when a couple of Utah injuries forced junior Hailey Skolmoski and senior Janie Kearl to leave the field. The chance to tie the match became difficult for the Utes when Stanford added two more goals, extending its score to 3-0 only 10 minutes into the final half.
Sophomore Carly Nelson continued to save some goals that kept Stanford from adding on more points, but the Utes couldn’t get anything going. The game came to a 3-0 end in favor of Stanford.
“It was a tough one,” said senior Natalie Vukic. “We knew Stanford was a really good competitor, and we knew it was going to be a hard game coming out. We did a lot of good things I think … Sunday will be a new game however, and we are going to come out even stronger from this game.”
Up next for the Utes, they face No. 20 California in another home game matchup on Sunday, Oct. 8 on the Ute Soccer Field.
“If we are going to get to the tournament and reach some of our goals, we are up against the wall already with the last three or four games,” Manning said. “This isn’t the conference start that we wanted. We need to get healthy and we need to get right.”
First kick is scheduled for 2 p.m. MT.