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Utah Women’s Soccer Fails To Record Win On West Coast Roadtrip

The Utes lost two games and tied one, but there’s still positives to take out of the games.
Utah+forward+Katie+OKane+%2820%29+in+the+game+versus+the+USC+Trojans+at+Ute+Soccer+Field+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah%2C+on+Friday%2C+Sept.+22%2C+2023.+%28Photo+by+Mary+Allen+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Mary Allen
Utah forward Katie O’Kane (20) in the game versus the USC Trojans at Ute Soccer Field in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. (Photo by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

After starting off the season as one of the hottest teams in the conference on the road, the Utah women’s soccer team experienced a tough stretch this past week as they were unable to record a win on their West Coast road trip. 

UCLA

The first game of this tough stretch was played against UCLA at Wallis Annenberg Stadium in Los Angeles, where the Utes lost 0-4. It was always going to be a tough task to take down the mighty Bruins, who at the time were ranked No. 5 in the nation. Known for their offensive attack the Bruins showed no mercy on the Utes putting up 36 shots to Utah’s three, however, all three of Utah’s shots were on goal.

The game started off with Utah successfully defending several of UCLA’s early scoring chances before a twelfth-minute goal by UCLA midfielder Ally Lemos. The Bruins quickly added to their lead after Reilyn Turner sent a ball past a diving Kasey Wardle making it 2-0 in the 19th minute.

Despite the 0-4 defeat, Wardle, Utah’s junior goalkeeper, had herself a historical outing. Wardle stopped 14 total shots, the most by a Utah player since 1999. Her 14 denials also currently stand as the highest save count for any Pac-12 goalkeeper in the 2023 season.

In the 25th minute, Utah freshman Lilliah Blum came close to halving Utah’s deficit, delivering a shot that seemed destined for the back of the net. However, UCLA’s Neeku Purcell’s acrobatic save denied the first Utah goal. 

Wardle exhibited her skill with four remarkable saves in the last 20 minutes of the opening half, while the Utah defensive line valiantly repelled three challenging corner kicks from UCLA, keeping the score 0-2 at halftime.

Unfortunately, the Utes were never able to gain offensive momentum and the second half remained mostly one-sided. Despite a near goal by Utah defender Ryann Cull in the 60th the Bruins didn’t give up the momentum and scored just a couple minutes later making the score 3-0 in the 62nd minute. The Utes later surrendered a late goal in the 89th, but at this point, the game was well out of reach, ending 4-0 in favor of UCLA. 

Washington

The Utes next matchup saw them travel up to Seattle, WA to face off against the Washington Huskies.

Coming off the last match it was clear that they wanted to be more aggressive with the ball, as early on they dominated possession. Utah’s Kennedy Schoennauer almost put the Utes up right away, however, her first-minute shot on goal just barely came up short.

In the 24th minute, a handball committed by the Utes awarded the Huskies a game-changing free-kick. Washington’s Jace Holmes executed a pinpoint delivery into the box, which was finished off by Hailey Still to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

After losing momentum the Utes played aggressively and managed to get four shots up just ten minutes after surrendering the lead; however, they were unable to score. 

The next goal scored once again was by the home team. Huskies’ defender Riley Brown put one past Utah goalie Evelyn Vitali making it 2-0 Washington.

After not scoring in the first half for the second straight game it was clear that the Utes had to make some adjustments. However, not too long after the break the Utes committed another crucial penalty that led to a Huskies free kick. Washington’s Kelsey Branson was able to take advantage of the penalty and made it 3-0.

Even after going down 0-3, the Utes showed plenty of fight, which eventually paid off in the 79th minute. Forward, Kelly Bullock fired a deep shot that got past the Washington keeper putting the Utes on the board, for the first time in two games. The goal marked her third of the season. Unfortunately for the Utes, they ran out of time for a potential comeback and the game ended with a score of 1-3. 

Washington State

The Utes continued their Washington road trip, facing off against the Washington State Cougars in Pullman this past Sunday.

The Utes searched for an early goal to put momentum in their favor. Utah’s Bullock almost provided the opening goal they were looking for just four minutes into the match, but unfortunately was unable to get the ball past WSU’s Nadia Cooper. 

Despite playing aggressively, the Utes fell victim to Washington State’s physical style of play and went into halftime trailing in shot attempts, however, neither team managed to find the back of the net, and the score remained 0-0 going into the half.

Utah’s Katie O’Kane broke the stalemate in the 53rd minute putting up the Utes up 1-0. The goal provided a beautiful look at the Ute’s passing attack as the ball O’Kane was found pretty open after good ball movement. The goal was her eighth of the year, a team-best.

Utah held on to the lead but were unable to close out the match giving up a game-tying goal in the 82nd minute, to Cougar midfielder Reagan Kotschau. The game ended at a score of 1-1.

 

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About the Contributors
Max Valva, Sports Writer
Max Valva is a sports writer for the Daily Utah Chronicle and is a studying journalism. Growing up playing basketball he made it his goal to pursue a career connected to the game. He is a diehard A’s, Warriors and Raiders fan.
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.

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