Soccer: Drawing a blank

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

One hundred and ten minutes of soccer didn’t produce a single goal at Ute Field on Sunday afternoon as the U women’s soccer team tied New Mexico 0-0 in a Mountain West Conference stalemate.

The Utes had one of their best chances of the match in the final seconds of the second overtime when Ute forward Adele Letro found herself wide open in front of the goal. Letro’s shot missed and time expired.

“For whatever reason, she chose to put it on her left foot,” said coach Rich Manning of the final play. “I’m not going to complain. She’s carried us a long way with her finishing and I’m sure, on another day, she’ll be able to put it away for us.”

Soccer is one of those sports where domination is not always reflected in the score. Despite outshooting the Lobos 9-2 in the first half and putting almost constant pressure on New Mexico’s goal throughout the opening 45 minutes, the Utes (10-2-4) and Lobos (7-4-3) were tied at zero at the break.

“It’s the old adage that, you know, (if) you have your chances early, you got to take advantage of them,” Manning said. “And we didn’t do that.”

Neither did New Mexico. The Lobos’ best opportunity came on a free kick from 20 yards out that was saved by Ute goalkeeper Lynzee Lee.

Lee, who has given up just three goals in the last six matches, earned the shutout.

“You have to be confident and just kind of stay in the game, because if you get out of it for a second, they’ll have a chance, and you’re not in the game,” Lee said. “You just gotta make sure your head’s in the game the whole time.”

The Utes outplayed New Mexico in the second half, outshooting the Lobos 14-5, but once again, Utah couldn’t get a shot past the New Mexico defense.

“New Mexico’s a team that plays really defensively,” Manning said. “We had three or four really good chances early, and you got to put those away. When you do that, then they have to open up. They can’t play so defensively when they’re behind, and as the game wore on, they got more and more confident.”

New Mexico’s defensive strategy worked and the Lobos snuck into Ute Field and stole a tie that dropped Utah slightly in the standings from its perch atop the conference to second place.

Now at 2-0-2 in the league, Utah trails UNLV in points. Earlier in the day, UNLV beat TCU and improved to 3-0-1. To repeat as regular season MWC champions, the Utes will need UNLV to either lose or tie in the upcoming weeks.

The Utes are back in action on Thursday when they travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to challenge TCU. Next Sunday, the Utes play at home-where they are undefeated-against San Diego State.

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Lennie Mahler

Utah’s Addie Hair and New Mexico’s Rachel Fields battle for a header in Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Ute Field.