Utes, Cougars play to a draw: Ute soccer ends regular season with 1-1 tie in Provo

PROVO-Things were looking dreary for the U soccer team on a miserable Friday night at Provo’s South Stadium. That is, until Amanda Feigt shed a little sunlight on the gloomy affair.

The junior Ute forward scored her seventh goal of the year in the 69th minute to pull level 1-1 with No. 12 BYU (15-1-2) and perhaps cement Utah’s (13-5-1) spot in the NCAA tournament.

“These are the kind of games we prepare for,” U head coach Rich Manning said. “It’s just a special occasion. I was really proud that the girls performed well under those circumstances.”

The speedy Cougars threatened the Utes early in the first half on the rain-slickened field.

“The first 20 minutes, BYU came out with fire in their eyes,” Manning said. “I felt like the last portion of the first half, we were able to settle down and do some of the things we wanted to do.”

BYU’s formidable forwards were able to break free a handful of times against the Ute defense, but keeper Ashley Mason was up to the task, making seven stops on the night.

“We’ve been talking about their forwards a lot this week,” said junior defender Michelle Deatherage. “They are all very fast and really quick on the ball. We concentrated all week on just keeping them in front of you.”

Melissa Crespo and Deatherage led a gutsy defensive effort and kept coming up with huge plays just in the nick of time.

Deatherage flung herself in front of the ball on one sure-fire scoring opportunity late in the first half, absorbing an absolute blast from point-blank range.

“Anyone would have done it,” Deatherage said. “We watched a video of a BYU game and saw someone making a dive to save a goal. You remember that. You have to give everything you have.”

Crespo was equally effective, nullifying one of BYU’s greatest weapons, Brooke Thulins’s long flip throw-ins. The sophomore got her head on every ball that came to her side of the pitch, frustrating the attacking Cougar.

“I was able to win a lot of 50-50 balls because I was confident that if anyone got behind me, I’d have someone backing me up,” Crespo said.

Melissa Wayman was just as determined as her defensive counterparts, but her luck was not as good. The junior standout just missed denying the only Cougar goal of the night.

In the 53rd minute, BYU’s Katie Larkin sent a precise volley into the box to a sprinting Annie Zwahlen, who shot immediately from the left side. Wayman came flying in to attempt a last-second slide tackle, but Zwahlen’s shot took a deflection off her leg and rolled past a helpless Mason, who had reacted to the original path of the shot.

The Utes, however, seemed to shift to another gear after Zwahlen’s goal. As Manning urged them to “connect” at the top of his lungs, his midfield started keeping possessions more effectively and created a number of good scoring chances.

In the 69th minute, sophomore Chelsea Card executed a nice give-and-go with freshman Adele Letro, who quickly won space and sent a pass down the right side to a wide-open Feigt.

Just when it seemed that Feigt had waited a second too long to pull the trigger, she caught it beautifully with her left foot and sent it roaring over the head of an outstretched Erika Woodbury.

“Amanda always seems to score against (BYU),” Manning said. “She gets up for these games, and she does well. We’ve scored two or three other goals just like that, where Adele has fed Amanda. It’s just a basic pattern, where if you get the ball and start dribbling in, you slip it to the runner behind the defense. With Adele and Amanda’s speed, they are both very good at that.”

“We were just trying to make runs and catch them off guard,” Feigt said. “We were trying not to be predictable.”

Following the goal, a crowd of more than 3,000 onlookers fell into a hushed silence as the Utah bench screamed uproariously.

The momentum did not swing back to BYU for the remainder of the match.

In the 75th minute, Letro broke free from the Cougar defense and fired a shot from the right side on goal.

A BYU defender made a diving play to stop the ball and sent the rebound right back to Letro.

Woodbury, who had slipped on the first shot, recovered just enough to deny Letro’s weaker second effort.

Both the Cougars and Utes had a handful of half-chances in the sudden-death overtime periods, but the two sides started to look a little flat after 90 minutes of play.

The Utes will try their best to recover before heading down to Las Vegas for the Mountain West Conference Tournament later this week.

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