Ute soccer drops two on road

The Ute soccer team still has national aspirations, but it will have to do its damage within the Mountain West conference after failing to score in its final two non-conference games and falling to 7-5 overall for the season.

The U managed to outshoot both No. 10 Pepperdine (9-0-1) and Loyola Marymount (4-5-3), but failed to emerge with a win after two 1-0 losses.

“This has really been a frustrating stretch for us,” said head coach Rich Manning. “I am pleased with the kind of soccer we are playing, but it’s also important for us to start getting results and stick the ball in the net.”

Friday’s loss in Malibu saw the Utes fair well in the battle for possession until the Waves broke through in the 28th minute for the only goal of the contest. Megan Woods set up Samantha Hire from the right side and Hire slotted it past Ute keeper Ashley Mason for her first tally of the season.

Forward Kim Lloyd hit the bar inside 10 minutes, and Adele Letro created four shots on goal, but nobody could beat Pepperdine keeper Anna Picarelli, who made seven saves and beat Ute forwards to a number of well-placed through-balls in the box.

“The second half of the game may have been our best half of the season,” Manning said. “We’ll just have to keep working on it. We continue to represent ourselves very well against good teams.”

It was a similar story in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon, as the Utes also held the majority of possession in their 1-0 loss to Loyola Marymount.

In a mirror image of Friday’s game, the Utes conceded a goal early in the first half and failed to recover. Loyola Marymount’s Kelly Lewandowski took a pass from Lori Sims and knocked it in from 5 yards out in the 24th minute.

“I felt like we were all over them for the first 20 minutes of the game,” Manning said. “Once they scored their goal, you could just tell our players were like, ‘Here we go again.'”

Lion keeper Joslyn Slovek made four crucial saves to keep Utes off the board.

“Their goalkeeper played very well and kept us from scoring early,” Manning said. “We had some nice crosses that she snatched right up.”

The Lions made adjustments after the goal to stymie the Ute attack, but Manning believes mental fatigue halted their momentum.

“We quit doing the things that we need to do,” Manning explained. “I really felt like we just tensed up and got out of our game. The good thing is that conference play (is starting), and we can get a fresh start and move on from there.”

The Utes will have a brief period of rest over the next few days, before TCU plays its first game as a member of the Mountain West Conference under the lights at Ute Field Thursday night (7 p.m.). New Mexico comes to town Saturday for another 7 p.m. contest.

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