That was not planned. You just have to be confident and place it and hit it with pace and if you do that it’s usually pretty tricky to save. It was very stressful and I’m glad it went in. —Utah midfielder Katie Taylor, on her game-winning penalty kick
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah midfielder Katie Taylor wasn’t about to say where her winning penalty kick should have gone. The only thing that mattered was that the ball hit the back of the net.
Taylor punched a goal into the top-right corner in the 84th minute to give Utah a 1-0 victory over BYU Friday afternoon before a record crowd of 2,552 at Ute Field. With the win, Utah improves to 4-0-1 on the season, while BYU falls to 1-2-2.
The senior from Davis High was thrilled to get the game-winner, even if her shot didn’t go exactly where she wanted it to.
“That was not planned,’’ she said with a laugh. “You just have to be confident and place it and hit it with pace and if you do that it’s usually pretty tricky to save. It was very stressful and I’m glad it went in.’’
So where was the penalty kick supposed to go?
“I’m not going to tell you — it’s my secret,’’ she said.
It marked the second-straight year that the Utah-BYU game was decided 1-0 on a late penalty kick on a play involving the goalkeeper. Last year, Utah goalkeeper Lindsey Luke was given a yellow card in the 88th minute and BYU scored the winning goal on a penalty kick.
This time, BYU goalkeeper Hannah Clark upended Utah forward Ali Allen as she went for a loose ball inside the penalty box.
“It was a through ball and I’ve always been taught to run on a through ball,’’ said Allen, a junior from Viewmont High. “I just ran as hard as I could and the 'keeper was coming out. I was planning on touching it around her, but she came toward me and I just flew in the air.’’
Surprisingly, the Utes don’t have a designated player to take penalty kicks — coach Rich Manning lets his players decide.
“I just heard all my teammates saying my name to come and take it, so for me that really helped because they were all behind me,’’ Taylor said. “I wasn’t planning on taking it, but having them all believe it me made is a lot easier.’’
BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood didn’t complain about the call, but wasn’t sure about it afterward.
“Obviously from my standpoint, it’s hard to tell,’’ Rockwood said. “Hannah was coming out for the ball and I don’t know if she was there too early. But it’s the official’s call and what can you do? You live with the calls. We had opportunities in the first half and it shouldn’t have come down to that.’’
BYU had dominated play in the early going, but despite getting three early shots on goal, the Cougars couldn’t convert. The Utes found their stride midway through the first half and were the dominant team in the second half.
“They pressed us and I don’t think we handled it well at first,’’ said Manning. “It took us awhile to adjust to it. I think the defense really solved some things and Nykell Seymour was huge for us with big plays in the back. It feels good to win.’’
The Utes next play UNLV at home on Friday, while BYU hosts LSU on Thursday.