Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Pullman, Wash.)
|Vandals get historic win|
MOSCOW, Idaho – It was exactly as they expected – gritty and tough – but University of Idaho women’s soccer got the result they wanted and made history with their 1-0 victory over Utah Valley University on Friday at Guy Wicks Field.
The win moves Idaho to 3-8-0 on the year, wipes away the bad taste of a losing streak and makes the team’s 10 seniors officially the most successful four-year group in program history with their 34th total victory.
“It just comes down to the hard work we’ve put in these last four years,” senior defender Christine Leathem said after the game. “We’ve stayed together as a group and pushed each other, on and off the field.”
Leathem added that while the group is proud of reaching the milestone, they’re not satisfied with just having the record.
“We want to make that record last,” Leathem said. “I want enough wins that we have a winning record overall and that the Idaho teams after us have to really work to try to pass that total.”
The goal was scored most appropriately by senior Erica Hart and set up by a great pass from fellow fourth-year Vandal, Megan Lopez. After two Vandal shots were denied by the woodwork and a handful of crosses had rolled past the goal unconnected, it seemed like luck was again away from Idaho before Lopez’s through ball.
“I was wondering if these new goals are lower than the old ones, because everything’s hitting that bar,” Idaho head coach Peter Showler joked. “In all seriousness, the girls did well in practice this week and it was nice that we were striking, but you’re like, ‘Is it going to be another one of those days?’”
Idaho’s center mid – starting her 73rd consecutive game for the Vandals – booted a diagonal through the middle of the field that took one bounce and found Hart’s feet for a foot race with the UVU defense. Hart zigged past one defender, zagged past the keeper and rolled the game-winner into the back of the net at 64:15 to give the Vandals a 1-0 lead.
“Megan played a perfect ball through. I couldn’t have asked for a better ball on that one – she set it up perfectly for me to put it away,” Hart said. “It felt so good.”
UVU (1-7-1) made career shutout number 14 as difficult as could be for senior keeper Liz Boyden. The Wolverines attempted 18 shots overall and put five on goal in the contest, and pressed forward harder than ever in the final half-hour of play.
The Wolverines put on pressure and sent in several high shots, but Boyden made a pair of easy saves and the Vandals got out of trouble with the win.
In all, UVU held an 18-17 shot edge, but Idaho had a 6-5 tally on goal. The Vandal women earned six corners and surrendered four, while UVU was whistled for 13 fouls to Idaho’s six, including one yellow card on the bench.
After the win, some momentum will be a good thing to carry into the non-conference finale. In keeping with the early-season trend, Idaho faces a talented and regionally-ranked UNLV squad that is 7-2-1 and riding a six-match winning streak.
“They’re very pacey, very quick and they’re 7-2-1 for a reason,” Showler said of the Lady Rebels. “It’s no easy place to go play, but we went down there and played in a tournament last year and proved ourselves well.”
Sunday’s match kicks off at 11:30 a.m. (PT) at the Peter Johann Memorial Soccer Field at Las Vegas, Nev.