SALT LAKE CITY –
An emotional week concluded with the final game at Ute Field and Utah Soccer left everything on the pitch during a 0-0 double overtime draw with No. 2 USC.
"It was important for us to come out with the right energy and play aggressive today," head coach Rich Manning
said. "The team was on point from the kickoff. I liked how we stayed stout defensively, yet were still willing to attack when we had the opportunity. We are disappointed not to get the full three points, but I am proud of how we performed."
Utah created the first chances of the match with Max Flom
forcing a save from Kaylie Collins and Haylee Cacciacarne's
header from a corner sailing directly to the USC goalkeeper.
The Trojans answered with Leah Pruitt and Penelope Hocking testing Carly Nelson
at the other end. However, the Utes would continue to attack with Holly Daugirda
going wide and Anna Escobedo
creating a scoring chance right before halftime.
The second stanza started like the first with Ireland Dunn
putting one on frame and Lulu Borges heading a try off the crossbar before going over on a second try.
It started to become one-way traffic about 10 minutes into the half with Tara McKeown shooting at Nelson. Two minutes later, the best chance for either team came to the Trojans as they were awarded a penalty kick.
In a case of déjà vu, Nelson stoned Ally Prisock to keep the match even. Last season, Nelson had stopped a penalty kick at the exact end, diving the same direction, in another goalless draw with USC.
The pressure continued with Savannah DeMelo hitting the post on the hour and Nelson continued to stand tall, making three more saves in regulation and forcing extra time.
The Utah goalkeeper continued to hold the Trojans at bay in overtime, denying Julia Bingham, Ashley Soto and Hocking to finish with a career-high 11 saves.
"We got excellent performances from many players," Manning added. "Carly had another great game in goal. Our back line did a great job holding off USC's potent offense. Hailey Skolmoski
was great leading and organizing the defense and we were able to create some chances through some crosses and set pieces."
Utah did not settle for just a point as it continued to create when it could. Natalie Kump
had a great chance but could not direct her header on goal and from a corner, Alexis Rushlow
lifted an attempt over the bar.
Utah concludes play at Ute Field with an all-time mark of 146-58-21 … Nelson now has seven shutouts on the season and 12 for her career … She entered the weekend second in the Pac-12 with a .857 save percentage and 65 saves … The last three regular-season meetings against the Trojans have resulted in ties with USC ranked in the Top 10 nationally every time … Prior to the contest, Utah acknowledged the impact of four senior student-athletes; Max Flom
, Hailey Skolmoski
, Liberty Taylor
and Paola van der Veen
, as well as IMPACT teammate, Auriana Christensen … The last match of the regular season is Friday at No. 20 Colorado with kick-off scheduled for 3 p.m.