BOISE, Idaho – Sophomore forward Katie Taylor (Kaysville, Utah) scored a pair of goals to lift Utah to a 2-0 victory over Portland State in the opening game of the Soccer Etc./Nike Classic at Boise State. The Utes (5-1-1) extended their unbeaten streak to six games and recorded their third consecutive shutout.
Utah’s 5-1-1 start marks its best record through seven games since going 6-1 to start the 2005 campaign. Utah’s five shutouts in seven games signify the best defensive start to a season in team history. Utah had previously posted four shutouts in seven games in 2005. The Utes have already equaled their season total of five shutouts from 2011.
“I thought we defended very well the entire game and our offense was very good in portions of the match,” Utah head coach Rich Manning said. “We showed more consistency in our attack. I would like to see more precision around the goal but we created a lot of good chances and Katie put a couple away. “
The contest remained tied at 0-0 with less than nine minutes remaining before Taylor found the back of the net to give Utah a 1-0 lead at the 81:52 mark. Junior defender Jenny Hutton (Littleton, Colo.) got the assist, the first of her career. Hutton played a long ball up the left side to Taylor, who dribbled past a defender toward the middle of the field and ripped a right-footed shot from 20 yards out that found the right side of the goal.
Taylor tallied her second of the game just 80 seconds later as she gave the Utes an insurance goal at the 83:12 mark. The assist went to sophomore defender Abby Groth (Sugar Hill, Ga.), who also got her first career helper. Groth played a long ball toward the right corner, where Taylor received it and cut inside her defender, leaving her one-on-one with Viking goalkeeper Lainey Hulsizer. Taylor then cut it past the Hulsizer and slotted the ball home with her left foot from inside the six-yard box.
“The more shots we took the more confidence we gained and we knew we could put one in,” Taylor said. “It felt really good to finally score, it’s been so long. Last week I had a couple shots that just didn’t come off my foot right and the same thing happened earlier this year. When I hit that first one it felt like it came off my foot perfectly and seeing it go in was so great. I feel like it opened up the net for me a bit and I hope it continues.”
Taylor now leads the team with seven points on the year. Her two goals are tied for the team high and her three assists, including the game-winning assist in Utah’s 1-0 victory against Texas last weekend, also lead the squad. Taylor now owns three career goals, two of which have been game-winning strikes, including last year’s tally against Colorado in the season finale.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Lindsey Luke (Corona del Mar, Calif.) made four saves in the contest to preserve her third consecutive solo shutout, and the team’s fourth clean sheet of the season. Luke has now allowed just two goals in five games for a goals-against-average of 0.40 to go with a .920 save percentage. She has now made 23 saves on the year, an average of 4.6 stops per game.
Utah outshot Portland State 19-9 overall as the Vikings dropped to 1-5-1 for the season. Shots-on-goal went 9-4 in the Utes’ favor, and they took six corner kicks to PSU’s five. Fouls were whistled 9-8 against the Vikings.
The Utes are now 2-1-1 on the year away from home (1-1-0 neutral, 1-0-1 road) after a difficult 1-7-1 record away from Ute Field in 2011.
“Having success away from home has been a big talking point for our team,” Manning said. “We put a lot of emphasis in preseason on being mentally tougher and finding ways to grind out results on the road and I think the players have really stepped up their focus when we travel.”
Utah is back in action Sunday as the Utes face tournament host Boise State (3-5-0) at 2 p.m. MT. The Broncos take on Nebraska-Omaha Friday evening.