Utes wave goodbye to Pepperdine

By By Tom Quinn and By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

After a rollercoaster of a preseason in which it struggled to find its rhythm, the U women’s soccer team finally played like defending conference champions for 90 minutes straight, defeating Pepperdine 2-0 Friday night at Ute Field.Second-half goals by Amanda Feigt and Melissa Crespo lifted the No. 23 Utes over the visiting Waves, who came into the game ranked No. 20 in the country.”I’m very pleased with our all-around performance,” U head coach Rich Manning said. “We stuck with the game plan and had outstanding possession of the ball.”Although the Utes failed to score in the first period, the Waves were fortunate to go into halftime with the score tied 0-0. The Utah attack kept Pepperdine goalie Kayla Stolte on her toes by tallying seven shots, several of which required acrobatic saves to stop.”We were very patient in our attack, and by that created good opportunities to score,” Manning said.The Waves’ weary defense finally broke down in the 62nd minute, allowing Adele Letro to thread the needle between two defenders with a pass to Feigt, who beat Stolte one-on-one for a deceptively easy-looking goal in the lower right corner.”I saw Amanda Feigt slip right in front for the goal and just hit the seam, and she got to it for an awesome goal,” said Letro of her assist. “Amanda always makes that run.”The Utes struck again 15 minutes later off one of the six corner kicks conceded by the Waves on the night. Whitney Dorsey sent a rocket into the box, where Crespo was waiting to head the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net.”Off the corner, it was just a perfect ball that got right to the far post,” Crespo said. “She (Dorsey) put it there and made my job easy. On those you just try to get something on it and hope it goes in, and it did.”As impressive as Utah’s two goals were, it was the defense that deserves credit for the win. Kiley Jones and Melissa Wayman made plays sideline to sideline, disrupting the Waves’ pass-oriented attack and preventing them from mounting anything even remotely resembling an offense.”The defense did a very good job, and Kiley continues to have a great season,” Manning said. “She had a terrific game tonight.” The Utes, who were playing their best soccer for perhaps the first time all season, kept the ball on the Waves’ side of the field for the vast majority of the second half. Pepperdine managed only three shots all night long, and Ashley Mason only had to make one save to record her second shutout of the season.With their conference opener just days away, Feigt and Co. could not have picked a better time to hit their stride. The Utes welcome MWC Tournament winner New Mexico to Ute Field on Thursday afternoon before squaring off against archrival BYU on Saturday at 1.With the win, the Utes improve to 7-4 on the season, while the Waves fall to 6-3. All four of Utah’s losses have come at the hands of top-20 teams.