LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Utah Valley University conceded twice in the first half, as early as the third minute, and could find no way out of the early deficit, falling 2-0 to Kansas City in the semifinals of the 2013 WAC Tournament.
The second-seeded Kangaroos (12-8-1) got off to a dream start when first team All-WAC selection Taylor Bare added to her already impressive haul of goals this season just minutes after the opening kickoff. Set up on a shot by teammate Ellie Chadick, Bare pounced on the deflection off UVU (9-10-1) keeper Lauren Sack and touched home her 14th goal of the season at the 2:16 mark.
The early tally put the Wolverines, the tournament's third seed, behind the eight-ball as the attack struggled to find space in the final third. UVU failed to record a shot for the first 20 minutes of play, a drought that was broken on freshman Taylor Kirk's attempt in the 21st minute. That effort was turned aside by Kangaroo keeper Nina Tzianos as one of her four saves on the day.
Utah Valley manufactured a pair of corner kicks in the subsequent minutes, but it was UMKC capitalizing on its next scoring chance. Midfielder Lauren Zach found a streaking Bare cutting through the Wolverine back line, putting the senior striker one-on-one with Sack. Bare slotted a hard, low shot past the charging Sack from 18 yards into the back of the net, doubling the advantage with just under an hour to play.
"Going down 1-0 in the first few minutes on a very soft goal really threw us off our game in the first half," UVU head coach Brent Anderson said. "We were a bit panicked the rest of that half and it showed in our play. We refocused after halftime and were able to get better control of the game, but we just weren't as dangerous as we needed to be."
In the second half, Utah Valley fired eight shots and put another pair on target, but the goals never came and Tzianos collected her second clean sheet in six days against the Wolverines.
The win gives the `Roos a 2-1 win in the season series and sends them to Sunday's WAC Championship match against top-seeded Seattle U. Utah Valley defeated UMKC, 2-0, in the season's first meeting in Orem but fell by a combined score of 5-0 over the last two fixtures.
Sunday's final kicks off at noon MT, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
For the match, the Wolverines and `Roos tied at 10 shot attempts each, with UMKC owning the advantage in shots on goal at 5-4. Senior defender Lexi Dunn and junior midfielder Lexi Robison led UVU with three shots apiece.
With the loss, Utah Valley's season winds to a close, as do the careers of four Wolverine seniors. Forwards Natalie Baker and Haley Curtis, Dunn, and Sack played their final match in the green and white Friday. All four were selected to the all-conference first team earlier this week.
"I'm very proud of how hard the girls worked and played in this first WAC season," Anderson said. "We have had great leadership from our four seniors and I am very grateful for all they've done for this program.
"We are a young team and I am really looking forward to see how we develop and compete in the conference moving forward."
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.