Double clutch

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

Last night’s 3-2 double overtime defeat of Idaho State in the first round of the NCAA tourney was a game of extremes.

The Utes’ performance fluctuated between amazing and awful, their spirits ranged from utterly flat to fired-up and their passing-oriented attack appeared both precise and pathetic.

“That was a s****y game,” Utah goalkeeper Ashley Mason said. “No doubt about it. That was a s****y game.”

Anyone who attended the game would probably agree with Mason’s evaluation; the Utes’ most dramatic victory of the season also happened to be their ugliest.

The Utes, who were down 2-1 for the majority of the second half, appeared to be headed toward yet another early exit from the NCAA tournament until a hard foul on Melissa Wayman in ISU’s box gave Utah a penalty kick with only 30 seconds left in regulation.

With both the game and the season on the line, sophomore Katy Reineke stepped up and nonchalantly buried the equalizer, sending the game into overtime.

While the Utes are no strangers to flirting with disaster, what happened last night was much more serious than flirtation. By the time that Mason and company realized what was going on, disaster was halfway to third base.

“I think that just about everything that could have gone wrong did,” Wayman said. “And it all happened at the worst possible time.”

Utah’s back line was used and abused for much of the game, and the game’s first goal came as a direct result of its timid play. Freshman Jena Roberts, who was filling in for the injured Katie Battazzo, misplayed an awkward ball, virtually handing ISU a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute.

“That ball just took a bad bounce,” Wayman said.

Although Melissa Crespo and Adele Letro teamed up to tie the game 15 minutes later, the Utes still weren’t finished digging themselves a hole. They spotted the Bengals another goal in the 68th minute when Mason’s attempt at a steal went awry, giving Michelle Okumura her second easy score of the night.

Following that goal, U head coach Rich Manning moved most of his players forward in an attempt to tie the game, but the Utes were turned away each time. Defeat seemed unavoidable until the waning moments of regulation when Wayman drew that fateful foul.

“I was sitting on the bench, crying,” senior Hailey Marsh said. “I thought our season was over for sure.”

But thanks to Reineke’s clutch kick, the Utes lived to play into overtime, where they won in sudden death off a goal from forward Amanda Feigt. Feigt, who tallied six shots on goal over the course of the match, finally found the back of the net off a picture-perfect assist from Crespo.

Although the Utes have plenty to work on between now and their second-round match tomorrow afternoon, last night’s game gave them a few things to smile about. They staged a phenomenal comeback against a great team, and showed some serious moxie in the process.

“We broke the first round curse that has been bugging us for the last few years,” Wayman said. “With that out of the way, we’ve got nothing to be afraid of.”

Lennie Mahler

Amanda Feigt takes a sliding shot at the Idaho State goal as the Utes work to make a comeback in the second half. Feigt scored the winning goal in the game’s 103rd minute.