Utah splits matches in Oregon, gets first Pac-12 win

S-Soccer Notebook

Utah started out its weekend on a low, but was able to end it on a high. The Utes dropped a heartbreaker to Oregon on Friday night, 1-0, but were able to find some redemption when they took down Oregon State 2-0 to get their first conference victory in 2014.

“When you play well and take the game to your opponent, you want to get rewarded for that,” Manning said. “We gotta keep moving forward.”

The loss to the Ducks was a difficult one to swallow because of some of the late chances Utah had to tie up the game. Oregon is a team that likes to hold the ball and wait for a chance, so Utah tried to counter that with its aggressive play. Senior Jill Robison even was shown a yellow card for one of her fouls.

The lone Duck goal came in the 15th minute, but was questionable at best. The Utes defense wanted an offside call, but the flag on the sideline stayed down.

The game remained scoreless the rest of the way, but Utah had plenty of chances to level the match. Its best chance came in final minutes of the match when freshman Mariah Elmer received a cross and had a point blank shot. It should have been an easy tap in, but Elmer’s touch put the ball wide of the goal.

With all the chances the Utes had, the game felt like a disappointment.

“I thought we played a fantastic second half,” Manning said. “We’re unlucky not to at least tie it up.”

After the tough loss, Utah had to regain its composure when it traveled to Coravallis to take on the Beavers.

The Utes did just that as they secured their first Pac-12 win thanks to senior Katie Taylor, who started Utah off on the right foot with her goal in the beginning minutes of the game. She collected her own rebound off her initial shot and netted her second one to give Utah the early 1-0 lead.

“We talked a lot about starting the game faster,” Manning said.

The insurance goal came from Robison in the second half and it was time for the Utes to play it safe. In the final 30 minutes, Utah locked down its defense and held off the Beavers attack to secure the victory. The first win in conference play came as a relief for Manning, even if it was against a weaker opponent.

“That was a tricky game,” Manning said. “They’re desperate to win. They’re not a bad team.”

The Utes will take some much needed rest before refocusing on their next match against No. 23 Cal on Friday. This will be the third weekend in a row where Utah plays on the road as it heads to Berkeley.

“I do think it’s a challenge,” Manning said. “It’s one that I think we are up for. I expect us to get back out there Friday at Cal and preform.”

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