Soccer defeats Air Force in overtime

By By Jason Peterson

By Jason Peterson

Adele Letro and the rest of the Utes survived a close call Thursday night and eeked out a 2-1 win over Air Force in overtime.

With 23 minutes remaining in the second half, Air Force forward Katherine Slogic powered in a left-side goal off a perfect lob from teammate Corbin Sanford.

“We came out slow and woke up when they scored on us,” Letro said. “After they scored, we got into our huddle and said it was time to play.”

It was then that Letro and the Utes kicked it up a notch and parked themselves in Air Force’s half of the field. After a sluggish first half in which the Utes had just four attempted shots, Utah outshot the Falcons 12-1, including overtime. One of those 12 was bound to find the back of the net.

It wasn’t until the clock showed 1:33 remaining that Letro punched in a ball that had been dancing around Air Force’s goalposts like a pinball. The assist was attributed to midfielder Kiley Jones.

Once in overtime, the Utes continued their relentless attacking using crisp passing and setting up Letro for good looks.

With less than five minutes remaining, Air Force committed the most costly of its nine fouls (compared with Utah’s five) and handed Letro her second goal — a penalty kick that secured the Utes’ 10th win of the season. The Utah bench erupted from huddling all night in 43-degree weather while some of the Falcons remained on the field in tears. Letro’s two goals brings her total to 14 on the season, which is second-best in the nation.

Air Force fell to 2-11-2 (0-4) while the Utes improved to 2-0-1 in conference play.

Utah coach Rich Manning gave credit to Air Force’s heady play, but was at a loss for words when asked about his team’s first-half performance. The Utes, a heavy favorite over a struggling Air Force squad, allowed the Falcons to control the pace of the game. The teams spent the majority battling it out in the middle third of the field with neither side coming close to a score.

“We came out fired up, but we weren’t sharp,” Manning said. “We played better the second half. We have a lot of confidence coming from behind.”

Air Force’s netkeeper, Ashlee Curtis, turned in a solid outing despite Letro’s late-game heroics. Curtis had four saves, including an impressive dive that stopped a potential tying goal by the Utes with eight minutes left in the game.

The Utes came into the game on a high after last week’s victory over ranked rival BYU. Utah has just three days to prepare for its next game against New Mexico, which will be played on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

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Teresa Getten

Adele Letro and teammates celebrate a second-half goal, which brought Thursday’s game against Air Force into overtime. Letro scored a second goal in overtime to lead the Utes to a 2-1 victory.