Sept. 15, 2013
OREM, Utah -- Two early goals from Natalie Baker and Lexi Robison proved enough for Utah Valley University as it held off UC Davis, 2-1, in Sunday's non-conference finale at Clyde Field.
UVU (2-5-0) took a 2-0 lead early in the match behind Baker's tally in the 16th minute and Robison's strike in the 21st. What followed was almost 70 minutes of dedicated, and sometimes nervy, defending as the visiting Aggies (2-4-1) doubled up the Wolverines in total shots and even got a goal back in the 49th minute. Still, two scores proved enough for a UVU side that utilized nearly the entirety of its active roster in the match to claim its second win of the season and first in front of the home crowd at Clyde Field.
"UC Davis is a dangerous team and we knew we would have to be strong defensively to compete against them," said UVU head coach Brent Anderson. "We got a couple quick strikes from Natalie and Lexi, but the team really had to buckle down and defend in the second half. But I think we got a great performance from the entire defense."
The Wolverines seized control after just a quarter an hour on Baker's second score of the season. The senior forward, who was active up and down the pitch throughout the match, raced onto a through ball played forward by Kim Stratford. Shielding herself from a defender on her left, Baker lifted a hard, sliding shot from the top of the box that beat UC Davis goalkeeper Jern Taylor, who had charged off her line.
The Aggies nearly equalized in the 18th minute, but Bridget Berman was disappointed to see her wide open attempt from only 10 yards sail high of the crossbar.
That disappointment was compounded only minutes later when Robison's left-footed strike doubled the advantage. Working in the middle of the field just above the 18, Robison turned on a lateral pass from Baker and took a touch before firing a blast that nestled into the top corner on the left side. It was Robison's first score of the season and the second assist for Baker who had a hand in each goal for UVU.
The 2-0 score line stood through intermission, but UC Davis got back into the game by way of a Wolverine defensive miscue. A failed clearance on the UVU end saw Lexi Poppoff gather in a bouncing ball on the ride side of the penalty area. The junior forward ducked back into the middle of the box before scoring with the inside of her left boot.
That was all the scoring the Aggies would see, however, as the Wolverines maintained its slim advantage for the final 41 minutes of play. Goalkeeper Lauren Sack, who secured her first win of the season Sunday, finished with three saves -- none bigger than a diving effort that stymied Ashley Edwards drive in the 56th minute.
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Twenty-two Wolverines saw action in Sunday's match as Anderson used his first-half cushion as a means to rest starters and rotation players for the second half. Besides a full 90 minutes from Sack, Sara Ranck turned in 85 minutes, followed by 79 from Robison and 77 from Lexi Felis. Haley Curtis led UVU with three shots, one of which slammed off the crossbar in the 71st minute.
"The center backs Lexi Felis and Sara Ranck played really well off of each other and I thought Lexi Dunn did a great job shielding in front of the back line," said Anderson. "Also Caitlyn Mortensen was great on the flank and Melanie Ostler may have had her best game of this season on the outside today."
With the win, UVU picked up its first win in four attempts against UC Davis -- a series whose last installment came in 2008.
Utah Valley will ride Sunday's positive result into one of the most significant matches in program history this Friday. The Wolverine women's soccer team will have five days to prepare for the institution's first-ever WAC contest when Bakersfield visits Clyde Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. as the Wolverines, who went a combined 28-3-1 in Great West Conference play, look to usher in its new conference era with similar success.
"This sets us up for a great match next week against Bakersfield as we kick off the WAC," Anderson said. "I think there's a positive tone for the team right now and we'll build on this and go forward into the WAC."