Utes fall to Waves before starting conference play

By By Matt Sanchez , Staff Writer

By Matt Sanchez , Staff Writer

Utah wasn’t in too deep, but after constant pressure, the Waves submerged the Utes.

The women’s soccer team (5-6-1) lost for the fourth time in five games as it fell to Pepperdine University (6-3) on Sunday afternoon 1-0 at Ute Field.

“I thought we did some nice things today and had chances to equalize,” said head coach Rich Manning. “We pushed at the end of the first and second halves but couldn’t get anything to go in.”

Pepperdine was well-coached and vocal from the sidelines. The game was evenly matched throughout, but Pepperdine was able to take the advantage when it had a chance.

“This is a very tough place to come and play,” said Pepperdine head coach Tim Ward. “(Manning) is a great coach and his teams are always scary. In the first half, we had some good looks, and we were fortunate to get an early goal.”

In the 28th minute, the Waves scored the lone goal of the game when Michelle Spacciapolli crossed the ball into the box where Callie Payetta met it with her head and put it across the goal in the opposite corner of the net.

“(Spacciapolli) played a great cross, and I was in the right place at the right time,” Payetta said. “I saw the keeper coming toward me, and I just pushed away from her.”

Utah outshot the Waves, 17-13, with shots on goal going 6-5 in favor of the Utes. Utah also earned three corner kicks to Pepperdine’s two. The physical contest saw a total of 26 fouls whistled, with Utah getting called for 16.

“We had chances and couldn’t finish on them,” said senior midfielder Kelly Isleib. “The difference in the game was they were able to take advantage of their opportunities.”

The Utes have not won a game in nearly three weeks, and the team is reeling from its difficult nonconference schedule. After starting 4-0-0 and earning a No. 21 national ranking, Utah has dropped six of its last eight contests, going 1-6-1 over that span.
After dropping the early goal, the Utes kept fighting in the second half but could not get anything to go. Pepperdine goalkeeper Roxanne Barker ended up with five saves.

“It’s pretty obvious that the team is pressing right now, and it’s affecting our confidence and mental toughness,” Manning said. “We just have to keep working at this. I love the team, I still believe we are very talented, and we have the character to turn this around.”

The Utes look to move forward and on to their conference schedule. They start conference play Saturday night when they compete against defending Mountain West Conference champions BYU.

“Our confidence is definitely hurting,” Isleib said. “A 4-0 start to now is tough but starting Saturday, it’s a new season. We will work on things and start fresh.”

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Tyler Cobb/The Daily Utah Chronicle

Lauren Hair collides with Kelsea Smith of Pepperdine in the second half. Utah had chances but could not capitalize during the 1-0 loss.