Two for the money

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

These days, U head soccer coach Rich Manning seems to have a little more gray in his hair. And after watching the Utes’ two games in last weekend’s Utah Fall Classic, it’s easy to understand why.

The U soccer team somehow came out on top in two nail-biters, a 2-1 double-overtime victory over Washington State on Friday night and an equally intense 2-1 win over rival Arizona Sunday afternoon.

The Utes, who fell twice to the Wildcats last season, held on to win a tight contest thanks, in part, to keeper Ashley Mason’s key block of a potentially equalizing penalty shot in the game’s 81st minute.

“Ashley was tremendous out there today,” Manning said. “She has been playing for us for the last few years, so there isn’t anything that she hasn’t already seen.”

Midfielder Melissa Wayman gave the Utes an early 1-0 lead over Arizona off a free kick from 30 yards out. Freshman Kelly Isleib sent a well-played ball into the box, and Wayman finished the job with a shot into the lower left corner.

But Utah gave the goal right back just minutes later when a series of miscommunications by the Ute defense let a poorly played ball bounce disastrously past Mason and into the back of the net for an own goal.

“Giving up an own goal is something that is never easy to deal with,” Wayman said. “But we huddled up right after, and we decided to take it to them and get it back.”

The Utes came out swinging in the second half and needed only 15 minutes to break the 1-1 tie.

Junior forward Chelsea Card tallied the go-ahead goal in the 60th minute off a pass from fellow reserve Whitney Dorsey. An outstanding run by Mckenzie Joyner set up both the shot and the service, and all three touches were picture-perfect.

While the Arizona game may have belonged to Mason, Friday night’s match against WSU was all about senior forward Amanda Feigt.

It was Feigt’s well-timed cross in the waning minutes of the second overtime that set up fellow forward Adele Letro’s second goal of the match, a rocket into the lower right corner that effectively ended the sudden-death period.

“We showed really good character tonight,” Manning said after the game. “I’m happy that we were able to come back and score after taking a body shot at the very end of regulation.”

The Utes, who were ahead 1-0, appeared to have the game in hand until WSU pulled even in the 87th minute. Midfielder Carly Dobratz converted on the Cougars’ seventh corner of the game, beating Mason in the process.

“We let up a little bit at the end,” Manning said. “With the amount of chances that we gave them, it was only a matter of time until they scored.”

Feigt, who ran roughshod through the Cougar defense all night long, also set up the Utes’ first goal, a score that followed virtually the same script as the game-winner.

Feigt’s well-placed service gave fellow forward Hailey Marsh a chance to bury a header, but Cougar keeper Brynn Bemis came up with the block. Fortunately for the Utes, Letro was there for the rebound and put Utah ahead 1-0.

Utah’s back line was stalwart almost the entire game, as Melissa Crespo and Co. shut down the Cougars’ forwards. Brooke Bemis, WSU’s top scorer coming into the game, was held without so much as a shot.

“I thought we played well in spurts,” Manning said. “We have the ability to control the ball in tight spaces, and we can play great defense. We just need to do it more consistently.”

Lennie Mahler

Utah’s Melissa Wayman tries to maintain balance over an Arizona defender in Sunday’s game against Arizona, which was part of the Utah Fall Classic at Ute Field.