Sept. 29, 2013
PHOENIX -- Utah Valley University shattered a 2-2 halftime tie with three goals over the final 45 minutes to claim a 5-3 WAC victory Sunday afternoon over Grand Canyon.
Five goals marks the largest offensive output for the Wolverines (5-5-0, 3-0-0 WAC) this season and featured a pair of goals from Natalie Baker and a pair of assists from Haley Curtis. Kristen Bailey-Yoo scored the first goal of her career and, with a tally in the 66th minute, Kali Stubbs scored for the third consecutive contest.
"We started very positively, but maybe we relaxed and lost a bit of the rhythm after our first goal," said head coach Brent Anderson. "But the girls responded well in the second half, both in the attack and defensively. I'm proud of the way we played, scoring five goals and forcing them to take a large portion of their shots from long distance. This win brings us back to .500, but more importantly keeps us undefeated in conference."
A frenzied first half left the two sides with a 2-2 tie entering the second period where the goals continued to flow. Four more goals were recorded over the final 45 minutes, but three of them belonged to UVU as the Wolverines improved to 3-0-0 in WAC play.
For the second time in the contest, Baker put Utah Valley ahead when she scored 18 minutes on the other side of intermission. Having finished a breakaway opportunity in the first half, Baker completed the double when she gathered in a deflected cross from Kali Stubbs and beat GCU (1-8-1, 0-3-1 WAC) keeper Cat Lena to the left side. The senior now has four goals on the season.
Stubbs then doubled the advantage in the 66th minute, benefitting on Curtis' near-miss. Driving down the right side, Curtis ducked cleverly inside and bent a left-footed shot towards goal. Twisting past Lena, the ball caromed off the left post, but settled at the feet of Stubbs who had little trouble depositing the ball into the back of the net. With a goal in each of last weekend's matches against Bakersfield, the sophomore forward now has three goals in three WAC fixtures.
"Kali has been vital for us coming off the bench," Anderson said. "She has been putting herself in good positions to score and clean up rebounds. I'm very proud of her for the spark she provided today and what she's been doing for us over the last few games."
Trailing 4-2, GCU made things interesting in the 84th minute when Emily Ravenhill slotted home on Jessica Fitzgerald's cross to cut the deficit to one. But any renewed hope for the Antelopes was promptly dashed when Lexi Robison slammed a left-footed blast from just inside the 18-yard box into the right-side netting to settle the final score line.
Sophomore goalkeeper Jessica Duffin earned the win, her first of the season, after relieving starter Lauren Sack at the start of the second half. Duffin and Sack each made six saves in the contest and faced 23 total shots from the `Lopes. Robison and center back Lexi Felis each played 83 minutes to lead the Wolverines on Sunday
Utah Valley has now won 10 consecutive conference matches dating back to October of 2011.
The Wolverines got off to a terrific start in the first half, opening the scoring in the 13th minute when Baker opened the scoring. The senior was freed into the penalty area on a pinpoint pass from Curtis and casually pushed a right-footed shot past Lena for her first tally of the day.
UVU concocted another pair of excellent scoring chances not long after the initial goal and seemed to be gathering the early momentum. But two quick strikes from the `Lopes promptly reversed the tune and the Wolverines found themselves trailing for the first time in their last three matches.
GCU's Fitzgerald initiated the home side's first goal in the 22nd minute, driving up the left side of the pitch before ducking to her right to uncork a shot from 18 yards. UVU keeper Sack did well to stop the effort, but could not corral the ball as it ricocheted free back into play. Samantha Bush slid in just in time to poke the ball into the net before Sack could recover.
Another goal from Bush only eight minutes later put the `Lopes out in front. This time the senior found herself in a one-on-one with Sack after a long pass forward from Shannon Costello. Sack charged from her line, but Bush dribbled around her and scored into the empty net to set the score at 2-1.
But as the clock ticked towards halftime, UVU found a much-needed answer in the 43rd minute. Substitute Kristen Bailey-Yoo made her presence felt in her sixth minute of action, running onto a misplayed ball by the GCU back line and firing past Lena into the right side of the goal. The tally was the first of Bailey-Yoo's career and brought things back level heading into the crucial, final 45 minutes.
"Kristen has been working hard in practice and showing well," said Anderson. "She got herself into a great position and was very composed in her finish. That goal was huge for us going into halftime."
Utah Valley now returns to Orem for its longest home stand of the 2013 season. The Wolverines will host four consecutive WAC matches over the next two weekends, beginning Friday when Idaho visits Clyde Field.