HONOLULU — An all-important insurance goal midway through the second half proved to be the difference in Utah Valley University's 3-2 win over Sacred Heart Wednesday night in Honolulu, Hawai'i. The match was the opener of the OHANAHotels & Suites No Ka Oi hosted by the University of Hawai'i.
Leading 2-1 at the halftime intermission, UVU (1-1-0) tacked on the game-winner at the 64:39 mark. Lexi Dunn began the sequence when her free kick toward the back post found the head of Lexi Robison near the endline. Robison, who had tied the game in the 31st minute, then sent the ball back toward the center of the box, where Haley Curtis fired the ball into the net. Curtis' tally, her first of the season, was too much for SHU (0-1-0) to overcome, despite a late goal in the 82nd minute and a couple of near chances thereafter.
"We knew coming into the week that we needed to crank up our defense," UVU head coach Brent Anderson said. "We worked on some things last week and I thought the organization of our back line and midfield was fantastic tonight. That kind of defense, coupled with Natalie (Baker), Regan (Benson) and Maddie (Adams) creating opportunities offensively, got us the win tonight."
The Pioneers' Alyssa Brandofino opened the scoring in the 26th minute on an unassisted goal. But Robison's equalizer only five minutes later — a clean-up of a bobbled ball by the SHU goalkeeper — ignited a string of Wolverine goals that put the game out of reach.
Baker got in on the act just before halftime, scoring her second goal of the season in as many games at 42:57 to set the stage for Curtis' game-sealer in the second half.
UVU continues play at the No Ka Oi Sunday when it squares off against host school Hawai'i. The Rainbow Wahine will face Sacred Heart on Friday night prior to its meeting with the Wolverines and are coming off a 5-4 win at UNLV last week. Game time is set for 9 p.m. MT (5 p.m. HT) at UH's Waipi'o Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
"We know Hawai'i can score goals, so we'll have to be very organized defensively to limit their chances," Anderson said. "We're excited at the opportunity."
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.