Photo courtesy UVU Athletics
OREM, Utah—After 31 shots, Donnett Sackie finally broke through in the 80th minute with a goal for the Utah Valley University men’s soccer team. However, the lone score was enough for UVU to shut out Houston Baptist 1-0 at Clyde Field Friday night.
“I’ve been around the game a long time and there’s a lot of games that are just like this one here today,” said UVU head coach Greg Maas. “I thought HBU battled hard, played well. It was really on our end and in a matter of creating chances our movement off the ball and execution. I knew it was going to come, I was just hoping it was going to come a little bit earlier than it did.”
The Wolverines (12-3-0, 5-1-0 WAC) put a barrage on the Husky goal all night with 33 shots, 12 on frame. Alec Felix got the attack started early as he fired the first shot of the match from the top of the box. Felix’s shot hooked left and sailed well wide of the goal.
Sackie closed out the first half with a breakaway attack on the HBU box. After he fought off a pair of defenders, Sackie fired from the right side of the box, but his shot missed just wide of the left goal post.
UVU opened the second half and continued a ferocious attack on the HBU goal. After Alex Neff intercepted an HBU (4-9-1, 2-5-0 WAC) restart, Giovanny Vazquez sent a pass downfield to Karson Payton. Once he corralled the ball, Payton shot a pass to Gui Leme, but two HBU defenders smothered it at the top of the box.
As Leme tried to locate the ball, four bodies, including HBU goalkeeper Chance Pope, dove at the ball. Pope dribbled the ball in an attempt to control it, but dropped the ball amid the mess of bodies. As the ball rolled away, Leme controlled it and sent a pass to his right to Skyler Milne, who passed back out to Payton. Finally with an opening, Payton fired from outside the box, but his shot was deflected wide right by Pope.
After Sackie was fouled in the 80th minute, Aaron Meyer lined up for a free kick. He approached the ball as though he was setting for service toward the goal, but instead sent a touch pass to Joe Barakat to his right. Barakat received the pass uncontested and sent service into the box. Paul Hoffmeister rose above the flurry of bodies and headed the ball down. Sackie slid in under and kicked the ball across the goal to beat Pope to the left post for his first goal on the season.
“We’ve been waiting for Donnett to get that moment. He’s been absolutely fantastic in training,” said Maas. “His minutes this year, he’s been put in to really kind of close the game out for us. It’s been a lot of defending responsibilities. So tonight he earned an opportunity to get into the attack a bit more and find a way.”
To make a wild game even stranger, referee Ramon Hernandez sent the MAWL to the stands after he decided they were yelling too much at the HBU players. In the 87th minute, Hernandez had enough of HBU head coach Steve Jones yelling from the sideline and assessed him a yellow card.
With the win, UVU notched its 10th shutout of the season, which leads the nation. The Wolverines are holding steady at second place in the Western Athletic Conference behind Seattle University, which tied Incarnate Word 1-1 Friday.
UVU will wrap up the weekend against the San Jose State Spartans Sunday at 1 p.m. MT in San Jose, California.
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