SALT LAKE CITY — No one ever likes a tie game, but some ties are better than others. That was the case for the Utah women’s soccer team, which battled to a 1-1 draw against Pac-12 leader and No. 2-in-the-nation UCLA Friday afternoon at Ute Field.
The Utes got an early goal from Ashton Hall, then relied on their defense and the superb play in the goal by Lindsey Luke to remain unbeaten in nine games at home this year.
“You always want to win the game and we’re a little disappointed not to get the win,’’ said Ute coach Rich Manning. “But as far as measuring our performance, I thought we played a really good game.’’
The Bruins came into the game with a 13-1-1 record, ranked No. 2 in the country and way out front in the Pac-12 standings at 5-0-1 with 16 points. So to stay even with the Bruins through 90 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime was a big accomplishment for the Utes, who improved to 3-2-2 in the Pac-12 and 7-3-6 overall.
“They provide so many different challenges because they can attack you so differently and I thought we managed the game very, very well,’’ Manning said.
The Utes got on the board in the 18th minute when Hall dribbled in past Bruin defenders and beat goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland from 10 yards out.
“All I remember is jumping up for a header, turning around, the ball was loose and I had one to beat,’’ said Hall. “All that went through my head was ‘just go,’ so I dribbled all the way in, found the keeper off balance and decided to take a hit.’’
UCLA drew even with a goal five minutes later when Taylor Smith took a pass from Sarah Killion and beat Luke with a low shot on the near side.
However after that, Luke was perfect, stopping eight shots on the day as the Bruins outshot Utah 23-5.
“I knew it was a big game, I kept telling myself I had to do this for my team and come up big, that’s my job,’’ said Luke.
“She’s a fantastic goalie and she played her normal, really good game and managed the situation well,’’ said Manning.
With the win, the Utes temporarily moved into a tie for third place in the Pac-12 standings with Washington, which had a late game against Arizona State Friday.
The Utes will play USC, which fell to 1-5-1 in the Pac-12 with a loss to Colorado Friday, on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Ute Field.