MOSCOW, Idaho — Senior Haley Curtis tallied the golden goal in the 95th minute to lift Utah Valley University to a 3-2 overtime win over Idaho in a WAC match Sunday at Guy Wicks Field.
Curtis' strike gives the Wolverines (7-8-1, 5-3-1 WAC) three more points in the WAC standings and keeps them in second place in the league table with two weeks of fixtures still remaining.
The teeter-totter match saw Utah Valley and Idaho (3-12-0, 3-5-0 WAC) trade goals throughout as the Wolverines scored the opener and clincher to withstand a resilient Vandal side that equalized twice on the day. A pair of freshmen made a huge impact for the visitors as Taylor Kirk scored and assisted on the game-winner, while Melanie Ostler notched her first career goal to open the scoring Sunday.
"It was a real battle out there today and I'm very proud of the team," UVU head coach Brent Anderson said. "We lost the rhythm of the match a few times but they did a great job to fight through it."
With a 2-2 score line showing at the end of regulation, the match extended into the first of a possible two, 10-minute overtime periods. Curtis needed just less than five minutes to decide the match, though, firing her game-high seventh shot attempt past Idaho goalkeeper Marina Siegl and into the side netting for the game-winner. Kirk helped set up the play, intercepting a clearance and crossing the ball back across the penalty area where Curtis handled the rest. Her sixth goal of the season, Curtis has now tied teammate Kali Stubbs for the team lead in goals scored.
The Wolverines got off to a terrific start when Ostler put the visitors in front with her first career goal in only the third minute. Taking a pass from Natalie Baker to the left side, Ostler's shot was touched slightly by Siegl but still had enough on it to burrow safely into the back of the net.
The fast start did not deter the home side for long as Idaho settled in and made the most of its opportunity in the 15th minute. Gabby Leong, who had been denied by UVU keeper Lauren Sack just 10 minutes prior, equalized when she fired home off a cross from Katie Baran. Her first of the season, Leong's tally leveled the score line at 1-1.
The stalemate stood for the final half hour of the period despite the Wolverines outshooting the home side, 13-4. Utah Valley also had 10 corner kick opportunities in the first half compared to just one for Idaho.
UVU produced another quick strike to start the second period, this time retaking the lead just four minutes past the half's opening whistle. Curtis helped initiate the scoring chance when her headed effort was stopped by substitute goalkeeper Torell Stewart. The rebound fell to the feet of Kirk, though, who had little trouble converting to push the Wolverines back in front.
"Mel (Ostler) scoring early was big for us and Taylor was very dangerous for us today with a goal and her assist on Haley's game-winner," Anderson said. "We were really needing them to step up today and they came through in a big way."
But back came Idaho, refusing to go away in its last home match before a three-game road swing. Kavita Battan pulled the Vandals back level in the 66th minute, driving a shot from 15 yards that slipped past Sack and into the right corner. Battan's second goal of the season ultimately sent the match into the fateful extra period.
Utah Valley posted two season-highs on the afternoon, firing 25 shots and earning 14 kicks. Both marks came in comparison to Idaho's 11 shots and three corners.
Jessica Duffin replaced Sack in goal in the 67th minute and recorded one save in 28 minutes of play. Duffin was credited with the win, her second of the season.
The Wolverines return to Orem for their final home match of the 2013 season Friday when they host Senior Night against Grand Canyon. Seniors Baker, Curtis, Sack and defender Lexi Dunn will appear in their final matches at Clyde Field against a GCU side that UVU defeated 5-3 in Phoenix earlier this season.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.