UVU soccer: Utah Valley sends off seniors with a 3-0 win over Grand Canyon

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Oct. 25 2013 10:59 p.m. MDT

Natalie Baker (9) and Jamie Brown (4) celebrate UVU's second goal Friday night at Clyde Field.

Linsey Craig, UVU Athletics

Enlarge photo»

OREM — Utah Valley University scored three second-half goals to top Grand Canyon, 3-0, on Friday night at Clyde Field. Senior Natalie Baker tallied two goals and assisted on another as UVU grabbed its fourth shutout of the season on Senior Night.

The Wolverines (8-8-1, 6-3-1 WAC), playing their final home match of the season, honored the careers of four seniors prior to kickoff. Senior forwards Baker and Haley Curtis, defender Lexi Dunn, and goalkeeper Lauren Sack each donned the home kit for the final time at Clyde Field and walked away with an impressive result to show for it. While Baker got the goals, Curtis added an assist on the night, while Dunn and Sack combined to keep the visiting Antelopes (4-12-1, 3-7-1 WAC) off the scoreboard.

In the season's first meeting back in September, Utah Valley and Grand Canyon lit up the scoreboard, combining for eight goals in a 5-3 Wolverine win down in Phoenix. Friday's start betrayed that score line, however, as UVU and GCU took a 0-0 tie into the intermission after 45 minutes of scoreless play.

The scoring lull was finally snapped in the 56th minute when Curtis, pushing up the right touch line, sent a low cross toward the center of the box. In the area, a sliding Baker touched the ball just enough to send it into the path of midfielder Kim Stratford. From eight yards out, Stratford had little trouble slotting the ball home for the match's first tally.

Baker, who fancied a match-high six shot attempts in the match, put her name on the score sheet almost 20 minutes later. Running onto a dangerous cross from Jamie Brown, the senior nodded a twisting shot that banged off the left post and in to double the advantage in the 75th minute.

Just eight minutes later, Baker slammed the door on the match with a rocket off a strike from near the top of the box. From the ground, freshman Chelsea Dunn did well to play a loose ball back to the senior who froze GCU keeper Cat Lena with a left-footed blast.

It was the fifth multi-goal game in Baker's career, as she now has a team-high seven on the year. Stratford's goal marked her first of the season, while Chelsea Dunn picked up her first career assist on UVU's third score.

In goal, Sack went relatively untested, posting four saves in 90 minutes. Junior Lexi Robison and defender Sara Ranck also logged a full 90 minutes Friday night, as did Baker and Curtis.

With the win, UVU has assured itself a spot at the four-team WAC Tournament next month in Las Cruces, N.M. With 19 points in the standings, and as holders of a tie-breaker over Bakersfield, the Wolverines can finish no worse than third this season. First-place and WAC unbeaten Seattle University can clinch the regular season crown with a win or tie at Kansas City on Sunday.

The regular season winds to a close next weekend as Utah Valley hits the road to face New Mexico State and UMKC in a Friday-Sunday slate. The Wolverines face the Aggies at the site of the WAC Tournament on Friday, then shift to Missouri for the season finale the following Sunday.

Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.