Senior Andi Bagdan takes the ball upfield in their last home game against Idaho State. Kira Terry/UVU Review

What started as off-season optimism soon gave way to a sobering slide in the Wolverines’ record.

An early three-game losing streak, which featured just one goal by the team in green, was marred by what Coach Brent Andersen labeled “individual play.”

UVU employed less passing and more dribbling than a game of pickup basketball, and the results left no doubts as to how much that game plan was working for them.

The Wolverines have shown recent signs of recapturing the flow that carried them through three straight wins to start the season, although two were exhibition matches.

A breakthrough 1-0 win over Boise State was followed by a 3-0 loss to Idaho. The offense reappeared via Katey Turner’s goal against Northern Colorado, but the defense was a no-show, giving up three first-half scores en route to the 4-1 loss.

An irregular 11 days between matches gave the Wolverines more than enough time to ponder how they had dropped five of their previous six matches.

They appeared to have figured it out at home with a 2-0 win over Idaho State on Sept. 23. It was the first game since the regular-season opener against Southern Utah that UVU scored more than one goal.

The win gave the impression the Wolverines had finally turned a corner. The ball movement and positive atmosphere that personified them in the preseason was back. Freshman goalkeeper Lauren Sack appeared to be an early-found gem, stopping four shots en route to her second shutout of the season.

But as has happened following every regular-season win, the team dropped their following match. At Southern Utah, the Wolverines actually led 1-0 at halftime before yielding three second-half goals to the Thunderbirds.

UVU repeated their Jekyll and Hyde offense Wednesday at Seattle University, taking a 1-0 lead off a first-half goal by Nicole Archibald Spencer. From that point, the offense disappeared, while Seattle ripped off two goals for the 2-1 comeback win.

While coach Anderson is pleased goals are appearing more frequently, he would like to see them happen more consistently.

“I don’t know if we can say we’re consistent,” Anderson said. “We’re going from game-to-game. Our consistency from first-to-second half is not necessarily what it should be.”

Going into Saturday’s match at Portland State, UVU held 3-7-0 with two games remaining until region play starts. Both games at Seattle University and Portland State, respectively, are on the road, so the Wolverines will once again be forced to figure things out as they go. Of their 11 regular-season games they will have played before region play, only two will have been at home.

The team will have had a week’s worth of rest and self-evaluation by the time region play opens Friday against Houston Baptist.

That game will mark the first of a long-overdue, four-game homestand. If Anderson has his way, Andi Bagdan and Regan Clifford will build on their team-leading assist totals (two each) and Archibald Spencer will find the net even more consistently than she has already (a team-leading four goals this season).

If that happens, the non-region slump will prove to be the growing pains UVU needed before peaking when it counts.