POCATELLO, Idaho — Utah Valley University more than doubled its season total in goals Tuesday, scoring a quartet in a 4-2 win over defending Big Sky Conference champion Idaho State at Holt Arena in Pocatello. Seeing her first collegiate minutes, freshman Taylor Kirk tallied twice in the victory.
Due to thunderstorms in the area, the match was moved to the indoor facility after a delay of more than two hours. It was the first-ever soccer match to be played at Holt Arena and first non-football or basketball game to be contested in the venue since the early 1980s.
"It was a crazy day," said UVU head coach Brent Anderson of the conditions and relocation. "Everything started off great, it was nice and cool, and we thought we were going to get the game in. And then it just started to pour and the lightning started. With such a long delay and then the decision to move indoors onto an artificial surface with narrow dimensions, I was a little concerned about our focus level. But we held it together, and the girls came out focused and ready to attack."
The Wolverines (1-3-0) took a two-goal lead into intermission on a pair of freshman firsts. Sheridan Fox notched her first collegiate tally in the 39th minute when a scramble in front of the goal dropped the ball right to her feet. Turning on her left, the true freshman slotted a low, right-footed shot into the lower right corner.
The advantage was doubled less than five minutes later on Kirk's headed effort. Reorganizing the attack, Kim Stratford played a ball back along the right sideline to another newcomer in Katelyn McLeod. The sophomore defender immediately sent a long, hard cross to the back post near the six-yard box. Kirk put a head to it and sent a driven shot from a difficult angle straight at the shins of ISU goalkeeper Sheridan Hapsic. The ball was too hot to handle, though, as it ricocheted off Hapsic and into the net to open Kirk's career scoring account.
"We've been very good defensively over the last two matches, but today we were finally able to get our outside backs forward to support the attack," Anderson said. "It was good to see Katelyn get her first assist off a great ball into the middle. Also, Sheridan and Taylor are two talented players who can get the ball off the turf and finish. They played very well for us today and helped us keep them off balance."
With the freshmen providing the spark in the first half, it was the veteran seniors who pulled through in the second, just as the Bengals (2-2-0) came out firing in the second period. With four shots over the first 12 minutes, ISU was rewarded for its renewed attack at the hour mark with a penalty kick. Defender Allyson Stainbrook converted into the lower right corner to cut the deficit in half.
The spot kick seemed to awaken the UVU defense and the home side managed just one more shot — albeit one that required a Lauren Sack save — over the next 15 minutes. The Wolverines recaptured the momentum when Kirk added her second of the game with another header, nodding home a deflection off a pass from senior Natalie Baker.
Still, the home side refused to go away, keeping things interesting with a late tally. Stainbrook struck again in the 85th minute on a free kick from 30 yards that found the upper-90 despite glancing the fingers of a diving Sack.
The senior goalkeeper finished with five saves — right at her season average — and did well when faced with eight second half shots from the Bengals.
UVU senior Haley Curtis stifled any hope of a miracle comeback in the 89th minute, taking advantage of free space in the middle and blasting a strike from 25 yards that nestled into the top corner.
The win avenges a 2-1 overtime loss to ISU last season in Orem and gives the Wolverines their second straight win in Pocatello.
Utah Valley's final non-conference road trip continues Saturday at the Montana Cup in Missoula. The Wolverines face former Great West Conference opponent Houston Baptist on Saturday before renewing their series with host Montana on Monday.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.