SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah women’s soccer team (1-1) captured its home opener and first win of the season Thursday night at Ute Field with a 4-0 shutout victory against Southern Utah (0-2). Sophomore midfielder Avery Ford scored the game-winning goal while freshman forward Baylee Nielsen netted a pair of goals and logged an assist. All four Ute goals came in the second half.
Utah broke the scoreless tie in the 57th minute of play as Ford got control of a loose ball in midfield. She then carried it on the dribble to about 30 yards from goal and unleashed a shot into the upper left-hand corner, giving the Utes a lead they would never relinquish. It was the second career goal for Ford, who is fresh off her Pac-12 All-Freshman campaign in 2011. Both of her goals have been game winners.
Ford’s goal opened the flood gates as the Utes continued to be aggressive and tacked on a second goal in the 63rd minute as junior midfielder Harley Spier buried a rebound from just a few yards out after Nielsen’s diving header rang the goalpost. The ball was served into the box by sophomore forward Katie Taylor on a perfect rope where only Nielsen could go and get it.
Nielsen wasn’t finished, however, as just over seven minutes later she knocked home the first goal of her collegiate career. In the 70th minute, junior forward Jen Ericson crossed the ball to Nielsen who turned and ripped a 20-yard shot off her left foot that hit the goalpost again, ricocheted off the back of diving SUU goalkeeper Charly Booth and into the net. It took Nielsen only four more minutes to light up the scoreboard again as she received a well-placed pass from sophomore forward Ashton Hall and blasted it home from eight yards out, capping off the Utes’ 4-0 win.
With two goals and one assist in the game, Nielsen becomes the first Ute to log five points in a game since Kelly Isleib did so on Aug. 21, 2009, against Utah Valley. Incidentally, that was also the last time the Utes scored at least four goals in a game.
Utah out-shot the Thunderbirds 33-6 for the game, putting 16 shots on goal to SUU’s one. Booth made 12 saves in the net for Southern Utah. Cheyanne Mulcock was tested only once in the Ute net but came through with the save en route to her first career solo shutout. Corner kicks went 5-2 for Utah, while fouls were whistled 8-7 against the home side.
Utah gets back into action Saturday, Aug. 25, against rival BYU in the Deseret Duel Rivalry Series. Kickoff from Ute Field is slated for 1 p.m. The game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network.
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