After a long period of speculation on how the different teams would fare in the new conference, the women’s soccer team opened up WAC play in a big way with back-to-back wins against Bakersfield Sept. 20 at home and Sept. 22 in California.
“It’s an honor for us to represent UVU and the athletic department as we make the transition into the WAC,” said head coach Brent Anderson. “We’re also representing all the coaches and student-athletes that have been here in the past and laid the foundations for where we are today. It’s a very meaningful time for myself and the players to be able to represent the efforts of all these great individuals and this university.”
Heading into the match, neither team had an advantage in the all-time series, each team winning one apiece. The Wolverines were ready to make history and get a good start to the WAC season and meet the expectations made at the beginning of the season.
The Wolverines came out strong and ready to play. They were attacking and being more assertive on offense, something that they haven’t done so far in the young season, being more of a defensive team. The Wolverines showed their attack by recording a season-high 22 shots for the game.
While getting in position and getting the shot is nice, sinking the shots will always ensure victory. The Wolverines were focused on scoring to earn the victory. Luckily for the Wolverines, a shot hit the back of the net in the 35th minute for Kali Stubbs, her second of the season. McKell Salmon picked up an assist on the goal. The teams went into the half with Utah Valley up by the lone goal.
In the second half, the Wolverines were continuing their offensive gameplan, battering 15 shots in the second half. Many of the shots were close and it seemed UVU was going to catch a break. They didn’t until the 78th minute. Salmon added to her assist by scoring the goal after breaking through the defense and putting in the shot easily.
With the win, Utah Valley continues to have success in the conference openers, improving to 7-1 all-time while also earning its first shutout of the season.
The Wolverines were back at it a few days after the victory, this time in Bakersfield, Calif., to face the Roadrunners. The Wolverines continued to bring it offensively. Haley Curtis scored in the 12th minute on an assist from Lexi Dunn. Scoring early really helped the Wolverines slow it down and play the way they wanted to.
“That goal was key. Coming that early it helped us relax and play the game how we wanted,” said Anderson. “It was a very physical match today but the officials did a great job keeping things under control. Overall it was just a gritty performance from the entire team.”
Stubbs sealed the victory for Utah Valley as she scored in the 79th minute, with the Wolverines putting away Bakersfield with the same score, 2-0.
“The girls battled hard and I’m very proud of how they stepped up and worked hard for this win,” said Anderson. “The back line was solid again today, really forcing most of their shots to come from a distance. Lauren made a couple of critical saves in the second half that really kept the momentum in our favor.”
The Wolverines will look to ride this momentum as the WAC season continues. They face the Idaho Vandals at home Oct. 4.