LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Utah Valley University women's soccer team scored three goals in the first half but ultimately fell in overtime to Wyoming, 4-3, Sunday afternoon at the Louis S. Madrid Soccer Complex. It was the second-consecutive overtime loss for the Wolverines and the fifth overtime contest in their last six matches.
"Starting games right and finishing games right is a huge key for us," UVU head soccer coach Brent Anderson said. "We're in a pattern right now where we give up goals early and have to use up all our energy to dig ourselves out of it. Then once we're back in the game we can't finish it off. We need to start the games better."
The Wolverines (1-6-1) found themselves in a 2-0 hole to UW (7-3-0) after conceding two goals in a five-minute span early in the half. But as the clock ticked past the midway mark, UVU got the break it needed when senior forward Regan Benson, working up the right side, sent a low cross to a streaking Lexi Robison in the box.
Robison appeared to have a step on the defender, and was tripped from behind before the ball arrived, winning a penalty kick for the Wolverines. Benson finished what she started, firing the penalty kick into the upper right corner at the 31:19 mark.
The penalty kick seemed to ignite the UVU attack as Benson struck again just a little over a minute later. This time Benson took a pass from Shalayne Janis into the right side of the box and slammed a right-footed blast just inside the far post to knot the score a 2-2.
The Wolverines weren't done there, though, as the scoring frenzy continued another 60 seconds later. Megan Millerberg chased a ball into UVU's attacking zone and wrestled it away from a Cowgirl defender near the top of the box. Having won possession, the freshman layed off the ball to Natalie Baker, who had curved her run to the left side of the box. Baker needed just one dribble before sliding a left-footed shot under the diving UW goalkeeper for her third goal of the year, giving the Wolverines a 3-2 lead in the 37th minute.
"I thought we had good output from our freshmen today," Anderson said. "Millerberg had a nice game for us and I think two other freshmen in Kali Stubbs and Caitlin Mortensen played some really solid minutes. I'm excited we got to see a little bit of what they can do."
Baker's tally was the third for the Wolverines in five minutes and gave UVU a one-goal advantage going into halftime.
The Cowgirls did not need much time to equalize in the second half, however, getting a goal from Lucie McDowell just seven minutes in.
After both sides played the next quarter of an hour even, UW almost regained the lead in the 67th minute when a cross into the box found the head of a Cowgirl forward just three yards out. UVU goalkeeper Lauren Sack needed every inch of her left hand to stop the shot as her diving effort kept the score line intact.
The match drifted into overtime, but did not stay there long. UW got the golden goal just 90 seconds into the extra period when midfielder Liz O'Reilly bent a free kick from 30 yards deep toward the far post. The ball bounced untouched through a large cluster of players and ended up in the side netting for the winning goal. The large mass of players in the middle of the box blinded Sack from the ball. She got fingertips to it in a last-ditch dive, but couldn't keep it out.
The Cowgirls' Sara Paul assisted on three goals in the contest, pushing her season total to nine, which tops in NCAA Division I.
UVU remains on the road next week with matches at Idaho on Friday and Seattle University on Sunday. Both schools are members of the WAC.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.