With the reality of back-to-school sinking in, Utah Valley is doing what it can to enjoy its last few summer Friday nights. That was evident as the Utah Valley women’s soccer team attracted a thick crowd of nearly 500 at Clyde Field to watch their season home opener against the Miners of University of Texas El Paso.
UTEP successfully kept the ball in Utah Valley’s territory for the majority of the night helping them to reach a total of 14 SOG. Goal keeper and freshmen Jessica Duffin concluded the game with 9 saves against the Miners but the saves weren’t enough to limit their offense as they took home the victory agasint Utah Valley 1-2.
“UTEP exposed a lot of the things that we need to work on,” head coach Brent Anderson said. “So we will fix that and move forward”
The first goal attempt from Texas was within the first four minutes of the game being block by goal keeper Lauren Sack. The offensive pressure was put on by Texas early in the game as they showed solid ball handling and 13 shots within the first half. This limited the opportunities for Utah Valley to bring the ball into the Miners territory.
“I think we were a little bit panicked in offense,” Anderson said. “I think we can play much more composed and build it up to get our midfield up and support the attack. I think we were a little bit rushed there.”
The Miners scored their first goal within 15 minutes of game play. Azia Nicholson shot from the right side into the top left corner past Sack to bring the score 0-1 in the UTEP’s favor.
Three minutes later Utah Valley lost Sack to a collision injury that required an injury time out and an eventual substitution that brought Duffin to take the goal keeper spot. UTEP attempted 30 shots Friday night while Duffin only allowed one.
“I just went out there and thought ‘I have to do this for the team and I need to be there for the team and stay strong,'” Duffin said. “It defiantly boosts my confidence. Its hard because of that last goal, but it did boost my confidence. It showed me that the team can trust me and I can trust my team.”
Anderson discussed seeing a lot of confidence in his team which stemmed from the commitment level he witnessed in the offseason. Between a very young and fresh team he views the veterans as a way to lead and influence in to a stronger team, something he thought was evident following Duffin’s preformance on Friday.
“To have Jessica just stepped in…she played like a veteran,” Anderson said.”She played with confidence in the team and saw what they could do”
At 52 minutes into the game, Natalie Baker scored Utah Valley’s first goal of the night off a 15 yard kick from an assist from Senior Shalayne Janis and Kelsey Kimball Cook.
Utah Valley held the 1-1 score against the Miners until minute 89:18 of the game. UTEP’s Tess Hall received the ball within 8 yards of the goal to kick past Duffin and win the game 1-2.
“Emotions are high. We had our hearts set on winning this one. But we came out and we played hard,” Baker said. “This was a really good team that we came out to play. I am proud of our team, we came out, played hard and showed a lot of heart tonight”
Utah Valley will prepare themselves for their road games starting on August 22 in Hawaii. The next home game for the lady wolverines will be on Sept. 2 against in state rivals Utah State.