UVU soccer: Wolverines close regular season with two road matches
OREM — With a place at the 2013 WAC Tournament secured, Utah Valley University closes the book on the regular season this weekend with a pair of road fixtures. UVU faces New Mexico State on Friday at 3 p.m. MT, before traveling to Kansas City for a Sunday meeting at 12:30 p.m.
UVU (8-8-1, 6-3-1 WAC) comes into the weekend riding a 3-0 victory over Grand Canyon in last week's home finale. On Senior Night, the Wolverines got two goals and an assist from senior forward Natalie Baker and a clean sheet from senior goalkeeper Lauren Sack. The two sides, which had combined for eight goals in September's meeting, took a 0-0 tie into the interval before the Wolverines exploded with a treble over the final 45 minutes. Junior midfielder Kim Stratford opened the scoring in the 56th minute, and Baker handled the rest.
In collecting the shutout, the 11th of her career, keeper Sack earned her second WAC Defensive Player of the Week award of the season. The program leader in wins, saves and shutouts made four saves against the Antelopes to push her season total in clean sheets to four.
With her two strikes last Friday, Baker now leads the Wolverines with seven goals on the season. That figure is just one more than the scoring output from forwards Haley Curtis and Kali Stubbs who each have six this year. Curtis also has a team-high seven assists and is just an assist or goal shy of eclipsing the 20-point mark for the first time in her career.
With 81 stops to her name this season, Sack continues to lead the WAC in saves and saves per match (4.76). She is second in save percentage at .779.
New Mexico State
With just four points to its name through 10 WAC matches, the hosts of this year's WAC Tournament have been eliminated from postseason play with two matches remaining on the schedule. However, one of those points came at the expense of UVU as NM State (4-10-2, 1-8-1 WAC) stormed back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to salvage a 2-2 draw in Orem earlier this month.
Furthermore, the Aggies' current three-match skid proves a bit deceiving, as all three losses have come by a single goal. Included in that streak is a 2-1 loss in overtime to undefeated, and recently crowned regular season champion, Seattle U. It was the closest any WAC team has come to toppling the Redhawks this season.
Junior forwards Layla Todd and Jennae Cambra each have four goals to lead NM State, followed by a pair each from senior midfielders Daisy Hernandez and Mary Kate Koziol. Cambra picked up half her season total against Utah Valley, tallying twice in the second half to help the Aggies to the draw.
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Jessica Schutter is tied with Sack with 81 saves this season and has three shutouts to her name.
The Aggies close out the regular season with a home finale against Bakersfield on Sunday.
With 18 points through the WAC season, UMKC (9-8-1, 6-4-0 WAC) and Utah Valley are virtually neck-and-neck entering the final matches. The two sides will spend the weekend battling for the two-seed at the WAC Tournament, and neither team can finish worse than third in the league table.
The Kangaroos went 1-1-0 last weekend, seeing their three-match winning streak come to an end against SU on Sunday. UMKC opened the weekend with a 2-0 victory over Idaho but fell to the Redhawks, 3-0, two days later. Sunday's loss to SU marked the first time UMKC had failed to score since being shutout, 2-0, at UVU on Oct. 11.
Senior forward Taylor Bare, who has put up Player of the Year-type numbers this season, added to her scoring haul Friday with a tally against the Vandals. Bare now has 11 goals this season, just one behind WAC leader and reigning Player of the Year, Stephanie Verdoia of Seattle U.
Emily Herndon has scored five times for the `Roos in 2013, while Ellie Chadick and Alyssa Elver have four apiece. Goalkeeper Nina Tzianos has posted 78 saves and holds a 1.29 goals against average.
Following Sunday's season finale, UVU and UMKC will meet again at the WAC Tournament on Nov. 8. With only four teams qualifying for the tournament, the Wolverines and `Roos will face off in the two-seed vs. three-seed game, and results from this weekend will determine those final tournament positions.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.