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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Two for the money

By Tom Quinn

The U women’s soccer team put itself on the fast track to a conference title by defeating the only two other teams that have finished on top of the Mountain West since its formation nearly a decade ago.

The Utes were hard at work over Fall Break, posting a pair of hard-fought, 1-0 victories over two former champions: BYU and UNLV.

The Cougars came in to Saturday’s showdown at Ute Field, a venue at which they had never lost, boasting an impressive 10-1-1 record. The whole team was riding high after a 2-0 win over TCU on Thursday.

That success, however, didn’t carry over into Saturday’s match, as the Utes were able to control the ball for the majority of the first half. Kiley Jones and the rest of the midfield used precision passing to keep the Cougars on their heels.

“We should have been ready,” BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “We came out a little nervous, really tight and were a little hesitant. We had a couple opportunities in the first half, but they put theirs away.”

Utah forward Adele Letro tallied the game’s lone goal in the 16th minute off an assist from midfielder Melissa Crespo, who split two Cougar defenders with a picture-perfect pass. Letro then launched a shot for the far post, beating BYU keeper Erica Woodbury for the goal.

“It was an easy pass to make when you have your team working for you,” Crespo said. “Adele made such an aggressive run, I knew exactly what she wanted. She did her job and I did mine, and it clicked.”

In the second half, the combination of fatigue and poor field conditions caused by rain began to take its toll on the Utes. Utah’s defense, however, remained stalwart and prevented the Cougars from scoring the equalizer.

“I was just trying to take it one minute at a time,” Utah keeper Ashley Mason said.

BYU’s forwards created numerous opportunities in the second period, but were denied each time. Although Mason and defenders Melissa Wayman and Carisse Winegar performed admirably, it was only by the grace of God that the Cougars failed to score. Two of their shots hit the crossbar, and several others sailed wide.

“At one point, they had four forwards playing one-on-one against our four defenders,” Mason said. “That made things kind of chaotic.”

Thursday’s game against UNLV followed virtually the same script as Saturday’s match against the Cougars, as Utah took a 1-0 lead in the first half and then clamped down defensively to prevent the Rebels from tying it up.

Letro once again scored the game’s lone goal, this time off a give-and-go from Amanda Feigt in the 36th minute. Feigt’s fancy footwork set up the score, and Letro finished it off with a shot into the lower right corner from 10 yards out.

“The team played well with good momentum,” Letro said. “We played well in the rainy conditions because we have been able to practice in this weather and get used to it.”

Oh yeah, that. The rain, which started as a light drizzle shortly after kickoff, quickly escalated into something out of a natural disaster movie. Players lost their footing left and right, and passes rarely reached their targets.

“I’m really proud of the way we grinded it out today,” Utah head coach Rich Manning said following the game. “UNLV is a team with a lot of heart and championship experience. We played a tough second half and the defense really came through for us.”

If the defense continues to play as well as it has during the last two weeks, the Utes will almost certainly be in the mix for the conference title come November.

Kim Peterson

Utah forward Adele Letro battles with BYU’s Andrea Willis in Saturday’s match at Ute Field. Letro’s early goal early gave the Utes a 1-0 lead, which they held onto for the win.

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