Women’s Soccer Stages Another Comeback, Upends Arizona
SALT LAKE CITY – For the second time in 2022, the University of Utah women's soccer team conceded a first half goal, then battled back for a victory, toppling the Arizona Wildcats by a score of 2-1 on Friday night in the team's Pac-12 opener at Ute Field.
The Utes now own a record of 5-2-2 and they start Pac-12 play 1-0-0 for the first time since 2016. The Wildcats are 3-3-2 and 0-1-0.
"I'm incredibly proud and happy for our team tonight," said coach Hideki Nakada. "We had a fantastic response after going down early and I felt we controlled the majority of the match thereafter. It was a great way to start conference play. Beginning tomorrow, we'll get ready for a great Washington team next week."
Utah's goals were scored by Taliana Kaufusi and Maryn Granger, while the Utes dominated on the stat sheet, to the tune of a 12-7 advantage in shots, including a 5-2 edge in on-target tries. Kaufusi's score was her fifth of the year, meaning she's already surpassed her total from all of 2021, while Granger's goal was her first as a Ute, making her the fifth different Utah player to accomplish that feat in 2022.
This match was not scoreless for long and Arizona got on the board on their first shot of the night, when Sami Baytosh sent a through ball into the box and Gianna Christiansen flicked it into the net in the 14th minute, putting the Wildcats up, 1-0. The Utah defense stiffened after this, however, and permitted their guests only one more shot on goal the rest of the evening.
Offensively, the Utes supplied a swift answer just over seven minutes later. A perfect pass from Avery Brady found Ryann Cull on the left side of the attacking area and Cull's cross into the box was headed in by Kaufusi for a 20th minute equalizer. Cull's assist puts her on top of the team leaderboard with three, while Avery was credited with her first helper of the season.
The tie persisted into halftime, but after the break, it was the Utes who seized the initiative and immediately went on the attack. That pressure paid off in the 54th minute, as Utah earned corner and Madeline Vergura sent a perfect ball to the edge of the six-yard box, where Granger was on the spot to head it past the keeper and propel the home side into the lead. Granger's assist was her second of the current campaign.
Over the final 36 minutes, the Wildcats tried find a way to draw level, but their hosts wouldn't allow it. One chance came in the 84th minute on a shot from the right side of the box by Quincy Bonds, but a diving save courtesy of Evie Vitali ensured the score stayed frozen. A corner kick in the waning moments of the match provided Arizona with a final opportunity, but Vitali snatched the ball out of the air to clinch her team's conference triumph.
The Utes will play their first Pac-12 road match on Sept. 29, when the schedule takes them to Seattle for an 8 p.m. match against the Washington Huskies.
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