The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
Print Issues
Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.

U soccer repeats as conference champs

With the MWC championship on the line, senior midfielder Erin Pruitt walked slowly from the midfield stripe to the penalty box, placed the ball on the spot, and calmly drilled her penalty kick past San Diego State goalkeeper Sophia Perez. The penalty kick gave the Utes their second straight MWC tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Women’s College Cup.

Despite her relaxed outward appearance, Pruitt claims she was not unaffected by the heat of the moment.

“There was too much pressure,” Pruitt said. “But it was just a really exciting feeling to go out this way as a senior.”

Hailey Marsh, whose penalty kick preserved the Utes’ lead going into the final frame, echoed Pruitt’s sentiments.

“The first overtime is high pressure, the second overtime is even higher pressure, and in penalty kicks, you feel like you want to cry or throw up, so it was a great relief to win,” Marsh said.

The Utes made four of five penalty kicks, and San Diego State could only net three, as two of their attempts hit metal and bounced away harmlessly.

Ashley Mason and Kiley Jones both made their attempts in addition to Pruitt and Marsh, and Glennis Donnelly defended the goal for the Utes during the penalty kicks.

“We put Glennis in goal for the shootout, primarily because of her athleticism,” U head coach Rich Manning said.

The penalty kicks were preceded by two 10-minute overtime periods, in which neither team was able to muster a significant offensive charge, due mostly to fatigue.

“We’re the first team to win the tournament having played three games in four days, and you could tell why that’s difficult,” Manning said. “When we got to the middle of the second half and in overtime dead legs and fatigue definitely started coming into play.”

Early in the second half, before debilitating fatigue set in, Hailey Marsh got a header past Perez to give the Utes a 1-0 lead. The goal was set up by a perfectly placed cross off the foot of Emily Campbell, a recent addition to the Utes’ starting lineup. Marsh had spent the first half on the bench, which she said contributed to her goal.

“I didn’t play in the first half so I had tons of energy in the second half that the defense didn’t have, and Emily laid off a great ball that I was lucky enough to get my head on,” Marsh said.

The goal seemed to mark a major shift in momentum, and the Utes appeared ready to dominate the rest of the game, but the Aztecs endured the Utes’ offensive onslaught, and then got a goal of their own on a free kick.

“I really thought the [Aztecs] were tiring before they scored their goal,” Manning said. “It looked like we were about to gain control of the game. We had a couple chances, and I really thought we were going to get another one, but we didn’t.”

The game ended in a 1-1 tie despite some great scoring opportunities for the Utes that were thwarted by the Aztecs outstanding defense and goalkeeping.

“There was only one reason why we made it to penalty kicks, and that was because [Perez] had an amazing game,” Aztec head coach Michael Giuliano said. “She made saves I’ve rarely seen from a keeper at any level. She kept us in that game.”

Late in the second half, Ute senior forward Lauren Field received a loose ball less than 10 yards away from the goal, touched it once, spun around, and blasted a shot toward the lower left corner, but Perez made a diving save.

“She’s the finest keeper I’ve ever coached, and I think she’s one of the finest in the country right now,” Giuliano said.

Her efforts earned her the tournament’s most valuable player, a rare feat for a player on the losing team.

Several Utes were also named to the all-tournament team including Jones, Tracy Stratton-Garner, Marsh and Amanda Feigt.

“I thought, today and throughout the tournament, that Amanda Feigt was terrific,” Manning said. “She was always someone the other defenses had to keep an eye on.”

Feigt occupied San Diego State’s best defender for the entire game, and besides creating several opportunities for herself, gave Field and Marsh several opportunities simply by being on the field.

Feigt, who rarely shows signs of fatigue, seemed to be running uphill, in the overtimes. But after all was said and done, her effort became the embodiment of the Utes’ entire season.

“This year has felt like we’ve been running up hill since before the first practice,” Manning said. “We had tough injuries over the summer to impact players, and then the first game of the year we gave up a goal 45 seconds into the game and then we lost 3-0. Being able to win the conference tournament and make it to the NCAA tournament in a year where it seemed like things were rolling against us for a long time, I think it’s a great achievement for this group of players,” Manning said.

With the achievement, Manning and the Utes can rest assured over the weekend that they will be in the NCAA tournament for the third straight year. More than that, however, the Utes have rectified two disappointing results from the regular season with wins over San Diego State and UNLV, and are looking better than they have all season.

“We’ve been playing our best soccer lately,” Mason said. “Whoever we play next week will have a game on their hands.”

[email protected]

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

The Daily Utah Chronicle welcomes comments from our community. However, the Daily Utah Chronicle reserves the right to accept or deny user comments. A comment may be denied or removed if any of its content meets one or more of the following criteria: obscenity, profanity, racism, sexism, or hateful content; threats or encouragement of violent or illegal behavior; excessively long, off-topic or repetitive content; the use of threatening language or personal attacks against Chronicle members; posts violating copyright or trademark law; and advertisement or promotion of products, services, entities or individuals. Users who habitually post comments that must be removed may be blocked from commenting. In the case of duplicate or near-identical comments by the same user, only the first submission will be accepted. This includes comments posted across multiple articles. You can read more about our comment policy here.
All The Daily Utah Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *