Every young team must go through a trial period and learning curve before success can follow hard work and practice. For the UVU Women’s soccer team, those trials have come early, after losing three close battles against UTEP, Utah State and Weber State. All the games were close, two of which were decided in the final minutes and the other decided in double overtime.
Fortunately for the Wolverines (0-3-0), losing game early in the season is only a minor setback. This is a very young team that is learning and striving to find their groove as a team. If the program follows the formula from last year of hitting their stride when conference play starts, they will still have a chance at the postseason
“We are learning from everything we do,” explained head coach Brent Anderson. “We are learning from our strengths and how to work as a team, which is important because we are a young team.”
On Aug. 23, the Wolverines went toe-to-toe with the UTEP Miners to open the season. It was a close match throughout. Haley Curtis opened the scoring in the 12th minute to give UVU the early advantage. The Miners answered quickly and the Wolverines found themselves behind 2-1 within 20 minutes. UVU tied the game on a goal from Kali Stubbs that came right before the half but was unable to recapture the lead and fell to the Miners 3-2, after UTEP netted the game-winning goal with just five minutes left.
“It was an exciting match, very open for both teams,” Anderson said. “I think we matched up well with a strong UTEP team and we are walking away knowing that we can make some simple adjustments that will help us play better in our next match.”
The next match was against in-state foe Utah State on Aug 26. The Wolverines and Aggies have had some battles going head-to-head. Last year, the Aggies bested the Wolverines 2-1 in overtime and this year’s game maintained the recurring theme. The Wolverines struggled to get the ball moving offensively, and were unable to break through the USU defense. However, their back was also holding the Aggies scoreless until the game’s only goal came in the 50th minute from a Utah State penalty kick.
“I think we played very well defensively,” Anderson said. “Obviously, the penalty was unfortunate, but I’m not discouraged at all by our defensive presence. I thought we struggled to find a rhythm on the offensive side of things and really only started to press the attack until it was too late.”
With the makeup of the roster very young and eager to improve, the losses are seen more as learning experiences.
“We need a complete game,” Anderson said. “We’ve been spotty at best. Against UTEP we had a good half, and in the Utah State game there were spurts here and there, but the bottom line is we need to come together and play a complete game.”
The Wolverines then brought it home against Weber State on Aug. 28. The home opener was a record night, setting the all-time attendance record at 1,227.
The game started much like the others with UVU scoring early in the match when Natalie Baker scored in the 11th minute. The Wolverines also continued to show their grit, playing defensively. However, the defensive effort was cut short when Weber tied the game again late in the match, scoring in the 49th minute in the second period.
The match continued in overtime where Weber was able to score in the second overtime period, handing the Wolverines their third consecutive heartbreak.
The team will have opportunities to put together a complete performance before conference play begins, with a stretch of five more non-conference games, two of which are at home. UVU’s next home game is Sept. 15 against UC Davis.