OREM, Utah – Winners of its last two matches, the Utah Valley University women's soccer team continues Great West Conference play with an East Coast swing this week. The Wolverines visit the nation's capital to face Howard Thursday night, then head to Orangeburg, S.C., to face South Carolina State. Both matches kick off at 5 p.m. MT.
Last week, UVU (3-10-1) opened conference play at home against NJIT. The Wolverines controlled the match from whistle to whistle, outshooting the Highlanders 34-7 and cruising to a 2-0 win.
Senior defender Nicole Slater opened the scoring for UVU Friday night, notching her first career goal in the 57th minute. Fellow senior Regan Benson added her sixth goal of the season seven minutes later to push the late advantage to two scores.
Friday's shutout of NJIT was the second clean sheet in the week for Wolverine goalkeeper Lauren Sack, as the Wolverines went on the road last Tuesday to face future WAC opponent CSU Bakersfield. A scoreless 90 minutes gave way to overtime, where a Lexi Felis header in the 95th minute made UVU 1-0 winners.
For her efforts along the back line in both shutouts, including the game-winning goal against NJIT, Slater earned GWC Defensive Player of the Week honors, as announced by the league office Tuesday.
With six goals on the year, Benson leads the Wolverines in scoring, followed by Natalie Baker's three and two apiece from midfielders Haley Curtis and Lexi Robison. Benson also is tied for the team lead in assists with two, giving her a team-high 14 points so far in 2012.
After allowing three goals against Loyola Marymount on Sept. 30, UVU goalkeeper Lauren Sack has gone the last 228 minutes without surrendering a score. Sack has 47 saves this year and a goals against average of 1.86.
Located in Washington, D.C., Howard University is winless on the season, holding a 0-13-2 record. The Bison opened GWC play last week as well, falling 2-0 at SCSU on Saturday.
Jordan Brown, a senior forward, leads HU in goals with three as four other Bison have tallied once. Brown also holds the lone assist for HU this season.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kyra Dickinson has made 125 saves this year, tops in the GWC.
UVU holds a 5-0-0 series lead over the Bison, taking a 2-1 overtime win in last year's meeting in Orem.
At 7-6-0, South Carolina State sits atop the GWC standings. The Bulldogs opened league play with a 2-0 over Howard last week and will host Houston Baptist Thursday before welcoming UVU Saturday.
Freshman forward Bianca Barrio scored both SCSU goals last Saturday, on her way to claiming GWC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Barrio leads the Bulldogs in the goals and assists categories, tallying four goals and five assists in 2012.
Brooke Contreras, another freshman forward, is next with three goals, while seven others have two.
Seniors Danielle Murphy and Mariah Hebbe have split the goalkeeping duties for SCSU this year, with Hebbe holding a slight edge in saves (23 to 18) and goals against average (0.68 to 1.06).
With 24 team goals on the year, the Bulldogs lead the GWC in scoring offense. SCSU is putting up an average of 1.85 goals per contest, also tops in the league.
SCSU holds a 4-2-0 home record on the year, with home victories over Alabama A&M, Alabama State and Prairie View A&M.
UVU has never lost to the Bulldogs in the short series history, holding a 3-0-0 advantage all-time. Last season, in Orem, the Wolverines picked up a 4-0 win behind goals from Lexi Dunn, Natalie Baker and Jaime Lyons.
UVU will play its final road fixture of the 2012 season next week, as it travels to face conference rival Houston Baptist next Saturday. From there, the Wolverines return to Orem for their final regular season contests, a home match with Big Sky foe Montana and the GWC finale against Delaware State.
The 2012 GWC Tournament begins Nov. 2 and will be hosted by UVU in Orem.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.