UVU soccer: Wolverines fall in season opener on late UTEP goal
EL PASO, Texas — Utah Valley University dropped the 2013 season opener Friday at UTEP by a final score of 3-2, conceding the decisive goal in a physical, back-and-forth contest with only five minutes remaining in regulation.
The Miners' Angela Cutaia delivered the blow in the 85th minute when, all alone in the box, she faked out UVU goalkeeper Lauren Sack and finished into the wide-open net. Taylor Kidd assisted on the play with a slicing through ball that freed Cutaia into space.
Forwards Haley Curtis and Kali Stubbs supplied a pair of Wolverine goals in the first half, but the visiting side failed to break through in the second as it fell to the Miners on opening day for the second straight season. Last year in Orem, UTEP prevailed in similar fashion, scoring the winner in the match's final minute to win 2-1.
"It was an exciting match, very open for both teams," head coach Brent Anderson said. "I think we matched up well with a strong UTEP team and we are walking away knowing that we can make some simple adjustments that will help us play better in our next match."
Midfielder Lexi Robison played all 90 minutes, picking up an assist on Stubbs' goal just before halftime. Senior captain and defender Lexi Dunn also went the distance, as did fellow defender Caitlin Mortensen and forward McKell Salmon.
Sack finished the match with six saves, including a crucial stop in a one-on-one situation with Miner forward Jade Babcock early in the second period.
UVU looked sharp from the whistle, needing just 12 minutes to find its first goal of the season. Dunn played a long ball forward to Curtis and, taking possession at the top of the 18, the senior used a clever flick to beat one defender before volleying over the head of the keeper for the opening tally.
The early strike seemed to awaken the Miners, though, and they controlled play for the next half hour creating several chances and pressuring the Wolverine back line. The home side leveled things in the 19th minute when Babcock beat UVU keeper Lauren Sack after a long run that wove through a recovering Wolverine defense. Azia Nicholson, UTEP's all-conference defender, added a second tally ten minutes later and suddenly the Miners held a 2-1 advantage.
Scraping for some positive momentum, the Wolverines capitalized on a counter attack just seconds before halftime. After gaining possession near midfield, Dunn again sent a long pass ahead that bounded into the left side of box. Robison was the first to the ball and her chip was partially deflected by the charging Sarah Dilling, UTEP's junior goalkeeper. Tipped, but not redirected, the ball settled in front of the empty net where Stubbs put it away.
But that was the final score for UVU on a night in which it was unlucky to not have finished with more.
"I liked our attack tonight," Anderson said. "We created some excellent scoring opportunities and I am looking forward to breaking down the film and working things out for Utah State on Monday."
From El Paso, the Wolverines return home to Utah and face USU in Logan on Monday at 4 p.m. Last year's WAC champion, the Aggies defeated Creighton, 3-0, Friday afternoon at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field. UVU and USU played a thriller last season in Orem, with the visitors escaping with a 2-1 overtime win.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
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