Coming off tough loss, team hopes to finish season on a high note

By Matt Sanchez, Staff Writer

The women’s soccer team (8-9-2, 3-2-1 MWC) suffered a 3-0 loss Thursday night at the hands of Oklahoma State (12-7-0) in Stillwater, Okla.

The Utes fell behind early when the Cowgirls got on the board in the 8th minute of the game. Carson Michalowski got a header to go off a corner kick by Bridget Miller.

Still reeling from the early goal, Utah gave up another score 90 seconds later and OSU went up 2-0. Kasey Langdon played a cross ball to Annika Niemeier, who headed it in from eight yards out. Sophomore goalkeeper Hannah Turpen was out of position and could not stop the goal. It was Niemeier’s ninth goal on the season.

Utah fought back and had several quality looks in the first half but could not get anything to go.

“I think it’s always important to play good teams and this was one of them,” said Utah head coach Rich Manning. “They have some dynamic attacking players and this was a good reminder for us of the things we have to be able to do well come conference tournament time.”

Early in the second half, the Cowgirls were back at it and made the score 3-0. In the 60th minute, Miller took a pass from Siera Strawser and hit a strike from 12 yards out to the far post.

All three of Utah’s attempts on goal came from freshman forward Hanna Terry, who took a game-high eight total shots.

The Utes will wrap up the regular season when conference foe Air Force visits Ute Field on Saturday at 1 pm.

The Utes have never lost to the Falcons with a record of 11-0, including a 5-0 mark in Salt Lake City. Utah beat Air Force last season by a score of 2-1 in Colorado Springs. The last meeting at Ute Field, Utah took an overtime victory 2-1, in 2007.

“Air Force has a lot of new players, but I think they play with the same commitment and enthusiasm that their previous teams have played with,” Manning said. “They are hard workers on defense that tackle well and give a great second effort. They don’t give you a lot of time on the ball. Offensively they do the same thing–they get up field and pressure you.”

The Falcons have fought through a difficult year with several close losses. Still searching for their first conference win since 2003, four of their six MWC losses this year have come by 1-0 scores. In all, Air Force has lost eight games this season by a one-goal margin.

“It will be very important for us to finish the season strong and come out clicking on Saturday against Air Force,” said redshirt senior Jen Christoffers.

The Falcons’ leading scorer is Stephanie Patterson, who has accounted for two goals and three assists, for seven points. Kelly Bieber and Bridgett Murphy have also scored twice, while four other players have found the back of the net once. In conference play, Patterson has the Falcons’ only goal, scored in a 3-1 loss to Wyoming, on an assist from Bieber.

Air Force is led by first-year head coach Larry Friend. Friend is only the second head coach in the school’s 17-year soccer history.

“Clearly we must defend our set pieces better, communicate well on the field and be more committed to keeping the ball,” Manning said. “I think those are little things that we can clean up, but at the same time this has been a recurring pattern this season. These things tend to cause us problems and we have to get on top of them if are going to reach our goals.”

This will be the last game before the Mountain West Conference Tournament begins on Wednesday in Provo.

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