Victories against Utah State, UVU boost Utes to in-state champs


Utah soccer spent its weekend playing some in-state teams and finished with strong outings as the Utes came away with two wins. The first victory came on Friday night against Utah State in Logan, 3-0, while the second came against UVU at home on Sunday afternoon, 4-0.
Although the team was able to muster up two wins, neither victory started off on the right foot for Utah.
“The team worked hard this weekend,” said head coach Rich Manning. “I don’t think we started either game well. But I think we kind of adjusted to what the other team was doing.”
Six of Utah’s seven goals came in the second half of play over the weekend. Manning was pleased his forwards are starting to find a groove and put the ball in the net.
“That’s what they’re there for,” Manning said. “We talked all week. Gabe Smart, our assistant coach, did just a really good job working on their mindset. In training today, Gabe came over and was like, ‘There is a couple forwards that are really ready.’ ”
Utah hasn’t beaten the Aggies in Logan since 2007, and at halftime Friday night, it appeared Utah State might keep the home streak alive against the Utes as the game went into halftime at a draw, 0-0.
Coming out of the break, freshman Mariah Elmer was able to open her account with a goal to give Utah the lead. Next was another freshman, Natalie Vukic, who also recorded her first goal as a Ute. To finish off the scoring, sophomore Katie Rigby joined in to make it three goals for the Utes. All three goals were scored in a 15-minute time span.
“They just got frustrated with not doing well,” Manning said.
After having a day to travel back home to take on the Wolverines, Utah came out against them with good possessions. Vukic opened the scoring off of a bouncing through ball from junior Megan Trabert. Vukic saw the keeper out of position and chipped the ball over for an easy goal.
Despite having the lead at half, Utah looked to be struggling against the Wolverine offense and needed to regroup at half.
Once the second half started, so did the rain, but as the saying goes, when it rains it pours. In the second half, Utah registered three additional goals in just over 10 minutes.
The first goal was an Elmer sister connection when Mariah scored off a steal and pass from her sister, sophomore Mikayla Elmer. Less than a minute later, sophomore Taylor Slattery netted a goal off an assist from junior Baylee Nielsen. Finally, senior Katie Taylor put away her goal after a mistake off a corner from the Wolverine keeper.
“I thought we played really well,” Vukic said. “We came out knowing UVU was going to be strong.”
As Vukic and Mariah Elmer both had their first and second goals over the weekend, Vukic thinks now that the goals will come easier for her and the rest of the forwards.
“It helps to get those goals,” Vukic said. “I think there’s kind of a barrier of getting that first goal. Once you get that first goal, it’s easier to keep getting them. You gotta get that first one.”
With the two wins, Utah can now call themselves “King of Utah.” Against three in-state teams, the Utes have come away with a win in each matchup. On top of this, the Utes didn’t give up a goal against any of the Utah teams it played.
“These Utah teams, we knew they were all going to be strong,” Vukic said. “It was really important for us to get these wins over them. Then go into conference with that mentality that we could beat everyone in Utah.”
Manning told his team there should be no way that it lose any of the games before conference play. Of the nine games played so far this season, Utah has won seven and tied two. Now that the non-conference games are over, the Utes are excited for Pac-12 play to begin.
“I think we’re all ready,” Vukic said “That’ll be exciting.”
Utah begins conference play this Friday at home against Stanford. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. MT.
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