Throw out the record and schedule the parade for the United Soccer Champion Utah Valley State Wolverines. In a tough-fought game last week, the Wolverines knocked off the Lancers of Longwood 3-2 in the championship match to avenge the team’s only conference loss.
"We know what we’ve done and the hours we’ve put in," coach Brent Anderson said. "To end the season this way is a great reward for us."
Freshman Andi Bagdan’s goal in the 73rd minute turned out to be the difference maker when Alex Myers of Longwood scored in the 87th minute to cut the lead to one. In a run-the-clock-out situation, Utah Valley was able to fend off the Lancers in the last three minutes of regulation and escape with the win.
In a first half that saw Longwood dominate possession, a rare offensive opportunity for the Wolverines turned into the first goal of the game when junior Jenni Clough put the ball in the back of the net off of Taryn Smith’s shot that narrowly missed its target. Longwood answered back near the end of the half as Lauren Trizna floated a free kick over the head of goalkeeper Mallory Schott to tie the score at 1-1.
The Wolverines wasted no time in the second half, taking the lead back for good. Katey Turner, who has been battling a knee injury and wearing a bulky knee brace, started the second half and scored in the first minute for Utah Valley.
"It was very fitting for her to score that goal," Anderson said. "The team was ready to go after that."
Turner’s goal seemed to be a momentum shifter for the Wolverines. Utah Valley controlled the ball for nearly the entire second half, resulting in two goals for the Wolverines extending their lead to 3-1. Longwood’s late goal proved to be meaningless as time expired and the lady Wolverines swarmed the field in triumph.
The win gave Utah Valley its first conference championship in its three years as a member of the conference.
"We try to go out and work as hard as we can and get the other team to adjust to what we do," said Bagdan. "It’s an awesome feeling to play and win."
Utah Valley’s (6-13-1) less than spectacular year turned out much better with the conference championship.
"We are glad we can compete and play these games and turn the season around," Clough said after the team’s semifinals win against NJIT.
With only one senior, Utah Valley will come back next year with a shot to repeat and improve on what they did this season.