Men’s soccer: No. 24 UVU stands tall, sinks No. 20 Washington

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Photo by Lonna King

OREM, Utah—Friday night marked the first time in school history two nationally ranked teams met on Utah Valley University campus. The No. 24 men’s soccer team hosted the No. 20 Washington Huskies at Clyde Field, and the Wolverines came out on top of a physical battle by a final of 2-1.

Coming from the loaded Pac-12 Conference, the Huskies (0-1-0) proved to be a formidable opponent to the rising Wolverines (1-0-0) as UW dominated possession and shelled the UVU goal with 18 shots and won 15 corner kicks.

The Wolverines, however, wasted no time proving they belonged on the same field as the Huskies. In the 14th minute Gui Leme and Karson Payton led a charge down the middle of the field. Paul Hoffmeister came bolting down the left side and took a feed from Payton as UW goalkeeper Auden Schilder came up in his box to meet the attack. Hoffmeister then skipped the ball through Schilder’s legs into the back corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Within three minutes later, the Huskies were awarded a penalty kick as Steven Wright drew a foul in front of the goal. Wright’s shot sailed wide right of goalkeeper Elliott Rubio and found the net as Washington leveled the match.

Physical play dominated the match as both sides attempted to gain an upper hand. In the 23rd minute, Henry Wingo took down Payton from behind as they were streaking down the sideline. Referee Schuyler Pack decided he had finally seen enough of the physicality and assessed yellow cards to Wingo and Payton on the play.

UVU got into trouble in the 51st minute as Payton continued to assert the Wolverines’ physical presence. Payton drove his shoulder into the chest of Beau Blanchard and sent him to the ground. Pack assessed Payton another card and the Wolverines were a man down the rest of the way.

Not five minutes after Payton was sent off, Leme again led a UVU charge down the sideline. This time down, Leme took the ball to the end line then fired a cross into the box. Schilder made a play on the ball, but mishandled it and left the play open for Hoffmeister, who sent the ball into the net for a 2-1 UVU lead.

“Paul getting that goal in the early second half was unbelievable, especially after going down a man with 40 minutes to play,” said UVU head coach Greg Maas. “That was just an incredible gut check for our guys in this game today, and they had to put on a defending performance to get a result.”

Leading with 35 minutes to play, the Wolverines buckled down the defensive strategy and held their ground. The Huskies pounded the UVU box for the final two minutes with three shots and three corner kicks. Rubio, who described the final minutes as “absolute insanity,” sent back each attempt and Luke Hauswirth finally sent a ball wide left of the goal to seal the Wolverines’ win with 15 seconds remaining.

UVU now heads on the road for the Bradley University Tournament in Peoria, Illinois. The Wolverines begin the weekend tournament against the Evansville Purple Aces Friday, Sept. 2 at 3:30 p.m. MT.