Season ends with double-overtime tournament loss

By Kelsey Price , Staff Writer

Thursday’s MWC semifinal match was déjà vu for the Utah soccer team, as they headed into double overtime against San Diego State for the second time this season. But with less than three minutes remaining, the Utes’ championship hopes ended as San Diego’s Cat Walker scored the game-winning goal.

“It was a really intense match that could have gone both ways,” Walker said.

Although the Aztecs outshot the Utes 18-10, possession of the ball was split evenly between the two teams, resulting in a first half with a lack of dynamic movement across the field. The game digressed in the first half to a physical mêlée full of slide tackles and penalties.

The Utes took advantage of a scattered San Diego defense in the second half, dribbling the ball around the Aztec fullbacks. Sophomore Erin Dalley capitalized on a loose ball inside the 18 to put the Utes in the lead 1-0 in the 38th minute.

“It was a jungle in the box and the ball happened to be near me,” Dalley said. “The shot just went my way.”

Although the Utes had several key breakaways led by midfielders, the team was unable to capitalize on the opportunities before being called offside. Two goals for the Utes in regulation, scored by Dalley and Lauren Hair, were determined to be invalid.

San Diego, however, came back in the 83rd minute with a goal from Walker, assisted by Brighton High alumni Niki Fernandes.

“We got a little flat after we scored our first goal,” said Ute head coach Rich Manning. “They were able to come back as we started to lose our steam towards the end.”

Manning attributed the Utes’ flat play to the physicality and speed of the game.

“It’s only natural for a team to get tired during a game like that,” he said.

Utah seemed to regroup itself in the first overtime, holding off the Aztecs despite three shots on goalkeeper Hannah Turpen.

In the second overtime, the shots on goal became increasingly dangerous for the Utes. A breakaway shot from the Aztecs was missed by Turpen in the 101st minute, but defender Lauren Dudley stepped to the ball multiple times before San Diego stopped its attack.

In the waning minutes of the second overtime, however, the Aztecs were able to take advantage of a weak center defense, with a goal assisted again by Fernandes.

“We just didn’t finish as well, I guess,” said Ute forward Kelly Isleib. “We got unlucky a couple times, while they got lucky.”

With Thursday’s loss ending the soccer season, the team looks to stay positive.

“Our record doesn’t show the talent we have,” said Dalley. “We had a great all-around group of players this year. This team is the best I’ve played on.”

The Utes finish their season with an overall record of 10-9-2 and a conference record of 4-2-2.

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