College soccer: 6th-ranked UCLA needs OT to beat scrappy kickin' Utes
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — For nearly 100 minutes Sunday afternoon, the Utah women's soccer team gave UCLA all it could handle, staying even with the No. 6-ranked Bruins.
The Utes couldn't quite hold off the Bruins, however, as a goal in the eighth minute of overtime gave UCLA a 1-0 victory at Ute Field.
Sydney Leroux fired in a shot from 22 yards out between two Ute defenders that found the bottom left corner of the net just out of the reach of Utah goalkeeper Hannah Turpen.
It marked the first home loss in Pac-12 play for the Utes, who were coming off a 3-0 win over USC Friday night. The loss evened the Utes' record at 5-5 in Pac-12 play and 9-9-1 overall.
Though disappointed in the loss, Utah coach Rich Manning took a positive approach to the game afterward.
"I'm very proud of the team we've become this year and I think this weekend we displayed that," Manning said. "I'm very happy for the players. We said we wanted to be playing our best soccer at the end of the season and I think we're doing that. UCLA's a fantastic team and I thought we hung in there the way we had to."
The Bruins had two apparent goals in the first half waved off because of offsides and the Utes came out with more confidence in the second half and had some chances to score.
In the 53rd minute, Katie Taylor's shot was stopped by Bruin goalie Katelyn Rowland and with just over five minutes left, Erin Dalley got free, but shot it just wide.
Turpen came up with several saves for the Utes, but couldn't stop the shot from Leroux.
"They're a tough team and it's a tough way to finish our game, but I'm happy with how we played," said Turpen. "Our defense came up big for us today."
UCLA improved to 14-1-3 on the season and 7-1-2 in Pac-12 play with its only loss coming against No. 1 Stanford. UCLA coach B.J. Snow was impressed with Utah and was happy to get away with a win.
"Utah was awesome today," he said. "They are a very well-organized defensive team that works their tails off for 90 minutes. They demanded our best performance, especially in the second half. We're obviously very happy to get out of here with a win."
The Utes will finish the season Friday night (7 p.m.) against Colorado at home.
"We're fighting for points in conference and I think we still have a chance to finish fourth, fifth or sixth," said Manning.
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