OREM — McKell Salmon notched a goal and an assist as Utah Valley University prevailed Friday night at Clyde Field in its first-ever WAC contest, 2-0, over Bakersfield.
For UVU (3-5-0, 1-0-0) the result stood as its first shutout of the season as it kept CSUB (1-7-0, 0-0-0) off the scoreboard behind a strong effort from the back line and six saves from senior goalkeeper Lauren Sack. The Wolverines also fired a season-high 22 shots in the contest, including fifteen in the second half alone, and forced seven saves from Megan Vina, the Roadrunner keeper.
Within the first half hour of play, Utah Valley began to settle into a bit of an attacking rhythm. It was the Wolverines delivering four of the first five attempts of the match, including a dangerous header from Natalie Baker off a Salmon corner kick that was steered just wide of the post.
But in the 35th minute, Salmon again played a smart ball forward to free substitute Stubbs in the middle of the 18. A right footed blast escaped the late-reacting arms of Vina and banged home off the bottom of the crossbar. It was the second goal of the season for the sophomore and the first since tallying at UTEP in the season opener.
The advantage was sustained into the second half where UVU remained active going forward. The Wolverines unloaded nine shots over the half's first 11 minutes, including a sequence of three consecutive shots on goal from Baker, Taylor Kirk and Lexi Robison. Vina kept out Baker's initial shot, but couldn't corral it, leaving the door open for a left footed drive from Taylor Kirk on the left side of the 18. Vina parried the shot over her head, but a ricochet off the crossbar returned the ball into play. Robison capped the sequence with a low shot that was finally gobbled by Vina.
Clinging to its slim advantage as the half wore on, the Wolverines became in need of some breathing room as CSUB threw more players forward to pressure the UVU back line. Sack preserved the score line with back-to-back saves within a 90 second period, most notably a leaping effort to the upper right corner to deny Caroline Muoio's looping effort from 25 yards.
The Wolverines got the goal and the cushion it needed in the 78th minute when Jamie Brown threaded a pass through the `Runner defense that found Salmon on a long run forward. One-on-one with Vina, the junior calmly slotted the ball into the lower corner with the inside of her right boot.
With the win, Utah Valley is now 7-1-0 in conference openers and has gone seven consecutive seasons without a loss in the first league game.
Sack was the only Wolverine to go a full 90 minutes, but defender Caitlin Mortensen was next with 85 minutes of strong play marking CSUB's dangerous Taylor Jordan. Senior Lexi Dunn recorded 84 minutes and created several UVU chances off free kicks while Lexi Robison and Lexi Felis played 83 and 82 minutes, respectively.
UVU has little time to celebrate Friday's win as it will be back at it again Sunday in a rematch with the `Runners. Completing the WAC-opening home-and-home series, the Wolverines will be at Bakersfield's Main Soccer Field for a 1 p.m. MT kickoff on Sunday.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.