Buffs end Utes’ win streak

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

The No. 14 U women’s soccer team gave fans a mixed bag over the weekend, facing two ranked schools and coming away with a win over Fresno State and a heartbreaking loss to Colorado.

The No. 21 Buffaloes ended the Utes’ four-game win streak thanks to a breakaway goal by forward Nikki Marshall and a penalty kick by Katie Griffin, two second-half goals that effectively erased Utah’s early 1-0 advantage.

“Colorado is a very good team,” U head coach Rich Manning said. “We gave the ball away too much, which is something that you just can’t do against a good program like that.”

The Utes, who have a bad habit of starting games slowly, came out swinging for the first time in their four-game homestand. Hailey Marsh struck first, putting the Utes up 1-0 with a rocket into the upper-right corner off a pass from Amanda Feigt.

Following Marsh’s goal, the Buffaloes started to find their rhythm just as the Utes were beginning to lose theirs. Colorado’s speedy forwards suddenly found room to run through Utah’s back line, a problem that was compounded by the Utes’ inability to hold on to the ball.

Utah nearly gave up an equalizer in the closing minutes of the first period, but the Buffaloes were thwarted by keeper Ashley Mason, whose acrobatic save earned a standing ovation from the crowd.

“Ashley had a good game today,” Manning said. “She and Hailey (Marsh) were definitely two bright spots for us.”

The Utah defense, which had done an impressive job of corralling a front line that averaged close to four points per contest, finally broke down in the second half, allowing Marshall to tie the game in the 62nd minute.

Just moments later, Utah defender Melissa Crespo was whistled for a questionable foul at the top of the box, resulting in a penalty kick that Griffin subsequently buried, giving the Buffs a 2-1 advantage.

Over the last 28 minutes of the contest, Utah mounted a furious rally that came agonizingly close to tying the game on several different occasions. The Buffaloes, however, were packing eight players into the box, leaving little opportunity for an equalizer.

Although the weekend ended on a sour note, the Utes started off on the right foot Friday night, earning an impressive victory over another opponent, the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Fresno State came into the game boasting an undefeated record and a defense that had yet to give up a goal. They left with neither.

Thanks to goals by Melissa Wayman and Hailey Marsh, the Utes posted a 2-0 victory over the visiting Bulldogs, improving their record to 4-1-0 under the lights at Ute Field Friday night.

“We beat a really good team tonight,” Manning said. “After winning 2-0, I’m obviously very happy, but there is still a lot that we need to work on.”

The Utes could have easily been the ones hanging their heads after the game were it not for the heroics of goalkeeper Mason, who earned her first shutout of the season by stymieing several Fresno State counters in the first half.

“Ashley was great tonight,” Manning said. “If it wasn’t for her, there is no way we would have gone into the half 0-0.”

Wayman broke the tie early in the second period off an assist by forward Amanda Fiegt. Feigt sent a picture-perfect cross into the box, a ball that Wayman easily headed into the lower right corner, beating Fresno keeper Angie Larsen.

Following a near goal by Feigt with a little more than 10 minutes remaining, Marsh put the game out of reach with her score in the 86th minute, finding the net off a free kick by midfielder Kelly Isleib.