Men’s soccer: UVU’s depth tested in win over UTRGV

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Photo courtesy UVU Athletics

OREM, Utah—With three regular starters sidelined Saturday, the Utah Valley University men’s soccer team downed the UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros 1-0 at Clyde Field. Karson Payton’s goal in the 65th minute lifted the Wolverines over the Vaqueros.

While Skyler Milne and Elliott Rubio were sidelined with injuries, Alex Neff was forced to sit Saturday due to yellow card accumulation. Despite missing the three starters, the Wolverines kept their identity with reserves Gui Leme, Mitch Jensen and Mckay Eves.

“We always knew this team was a deep team and we knew our depth would be tested and it has been all year,” said UVU head coach Greg Maas.

The Wolverines (9-3-0, 2-1-0 WAC) primarily held possession in the first half, but a strong UTRGV back line kept UVU off the board despite three shots. However, UVU settled into the second half with nine shots, including three on goal.

In the 63rd minute, Maas made a change and moved Paul Hoffmeister from the left side of the pitch to the right. The change paid immediate dividends in the 65th minute as Hoffmeister intercepted a pass from UTRGV’s Michael Faber. Hoffmeister passed back to Payton into the box, who fired from near the penalty spot and found the back, right corner of the goal.

“[Hoffmeister] did a fantastic job collecting the ball and cutting inside, which is going to flatten out their back line,” said Maas. “He moved the ball wide, the ball came into Karson, Karson took a great touch and obviously a fantastic finish in the upper corner for our captain.”

UTRGV managed to fire three of its four second-half shots in the final 15 minutes, but Jensen, Eves and the rest of the UVU back line kept the Vaqueros (3-6-2, 1-2-1 WAC) off the board for the second shutout of the weekend.

In the final minute, Gui Leme broke downfield and managed a one-on-one against UTRGV goalkeeper Esa Aalto, but Aalto dove on the ball before Leme could manage a shot.

In the 50th minute, after UTRGV head coach Paul Leese had been petitioning referee Charles Farr for fouls throughout the match, Leese finally got his call. Aaron Meyer made contact with an airborne Ilias Kosmidis and knocked him to the turf. As a result, Meyer was assessed his third yellow card of the season on the play.

The Wolverines currently sit in third place in the Western Athletic Conference standings, behind Seattle University and the Air Force Academy.

After a 2-0 home stand, UVU heads back out on the road to face second-place Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colorado Friday, Oct. 14. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT.