Soccer: No. 25 Utah Ends Double OT in 0-0 Draw to No.10 USC

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Cassandra Palor

Paola Van Der Even (14) dribbles past Nicole Molen (11) during the Utah Utes Women’s soccer tie game versus University of Southern California at Ute Soccer Field in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday, September 23, 2017. (Photo by Cassandra Palor/ Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Carra McManamon

After 110 minutes of soccer, the conference opener for the No. 25 University of Utah soccer team (5-2-2, 0-0-1 Pac-12) and No. 10 USC (6-1-1, 0-0-1 Pac-12) ended in a 0-0 draw on Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City. Utah head coach Rich Manning knew this match wasn’t going to be an easy game for his squad.

“I thought we battled really hard, we competed, especially as the game wore on that was really kind of a test of your competitive spirit and will,” Manning said. “I thought we did well in that area.”

Utah had the first shot of the game in the fourth minute from Poala Van der Ven, but it was saved by the USC goalie. The Trojans quickly answered back with their own shot on goal, but Carly Nelson saved it. Nelson, who had a career-high 10 saves, was pleased with the outcome of the match.

“It feels really good,” Nelson said. “They’re reining champions, so we put in a fight and got a tie at least. It’s better than a loss.”

The second half of the match featured Utah trying to stop USC who tallied 10 shots compared to Utah’s one. In the 66th minute, Natalie Vukic had Utah’s lone shot of the half, but it was blocked.

“They started making adjustments,” Manning said. “As the game went on and at the beginning of the second half it took us awhile to make our adjustment, but I thought once we made that adjustment, the game evened out again and it was just a question of someone putting away a chance to win.”

USC had an opportunity to put the match away when a penalty kick was awarded to the Trojans, but Nelson came up big for the Utes, and she stopped the shot by Savannah Demelo in the 87th minute.

“It’s a goalkeepers dream sometimes when these are the biggest moments you get in a game,” Nelson said. “It’s your moment to step up and show what you’re made of. I said I got this ball, I got this, I’ve trained, I’ve worked for it and I’m gonna do it.”

That save by Nelson forced the game into extra time. During the first 10 minute period, Utah was unable to get a shot off. USC had one, but it went wide. The match went into a second 10 minute period where Utah outshot USC, 4-1. Tavia Leachman had a header shot, but it went wide. Hailey Skolmoski followed with her own header shot before Leachman had another chance. Eden Jacobsen was the final Ute who tried to find the back of the net, but her shot went wide to close out the match.

Despite the draw, Utah knows it can’t dwell on the results from this match because it needs to prepare for the rest of the Pac-12 competition it will face this season.

“As important as this game is you have to move on and get ready for the next one,” Manning said. “If you start thinking about how good all these teams are, I’ll be hanging out downtown at the pubs.”

Up next, the Utes will take a two-game road trip to visit Washington on Thursday, September 28 at 8:30 p.m. MT and Washington State on Sunday, October 1st at 12 p.m. MT.

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