Shane Truskolaski, UVU Athletics
OREM — Utah Valley University suffered its second WAC loss of the weekend Sunday afternoon, falling to first-place and preseason conference favorite Seattle University, 2-0, at Clyde Field.
UVU (5-7-0, 3-2-0 WAC) has now gone goalless in its last two games and falls to 0-5-0 all-time against Seattle U (8-2-2, 5-0-0 WAC). The Redhawks, winners of six straight, remain unbeaten in WAC play and have not allowed a goal in their last five matches.
A see-sawing first half saw the Wolverines create a handful of genuine scoring chances. Defender Lexi Dunn delivered UVU's first threat, blasting a free kick from 30 yards that bent straight toward the upper left corner. SU keeper Brianna Smallidge got the slightest of touches to the ball, though, pushing the shot off the top of the crossbar and out of play.
Forward Natalie Baker found herself one-on-one with Smallidge on a pair of occasions in the half, but both times the senior was turned away. Baker looked likely to put UVU in front in the 15th minute, but her attempt was deflected high into the air by the keeper's outstretched left hand. Sticking with the play, Baker settled the loose ball and turned to fire again, but a recovering Redhawk defender slid in to block the shot.
The Wolverines finished the match with 14 shots, a team-high four of which came from Baker. Dunn and fellow senior Haley Curtis added three.
SU's Stephanie Verdoia, a Salt Lake City native and Brighton High School product, supplied what proved to be the winning goal for the Redhawks late in the first half. The junior placed a leaping header into the upper left corner in the 38th minute to open the scoring and send the visitors into halftime with a 1-0 advantage.
On the other side of intermission, UVU freshman Taylor Kirk nearly equalized in the 58th minute. Moving centrally from the right side of the penalty area, Kirk fired a left-footed shot that beat Smallidge but slammed off the crossbar and then out.
The woodwork was less cruel to Seattle as the Redhawks' second goal came way of a lucky carom off the frame. Running onto a cross from Mary Hill, forward Natasha Howe fired a half-volley from 15 yards that flew over the head of UVU goalkeeper Lauren Sack. Catching the bottom side of the bar, the ball deflected downward and into Sack's turned back before trickling across the goal line to settle the final score line.
With the clock ticking under 10 minutes in regulation, UVU manufactured one last chance to get back into the game when a bounding through ball freed Curtis into the penalty area. Facing a charging Smallidge, Curtis attempted a lofted flick toward goal but saw the ball sail just over the crossbar.
Sack, who finished the day with three saves, and defenders Maddie Adams, Lexi Felis, and Sara Ranck played a full 90 minutes Sunday. Freshman Melanie Ostler saw the most time off the bench, logging 41 minutes of action.
Utah Valley continues WAC play next weekend with another pair of home matches. Kansas City will be in Orem on Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff, and New Mexico State awaits the Wolverines for a game Sunday at 1 p.m.
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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