Utah Soccer, No. 15 USC Forge 0-0 Tie
SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah women's soccer team battled for 90 minutes against the No. 15 USC Trojans and the match finished in a 0-0 tie on Thursday night in Pac-12 action at Ute Field.
This makes back-to-back scoreless draws for the Utes, the first time that's happened since 2013, and Utah moved up to sixth in the conference with eight points, a 2-3-2 league record and a 6-5-4 overall mark. USC is second in the Pac-12 with 16 points and they are 5-1-1 and 9-2-2.
"We talked about the importance of keeping our organization," said coach Hideki Nakada, "and being disciplined for 90 minutes and I'm proud of our group for staying true to our game plan. I felt we created more opportunities and I'm disappointed we weren't able to come away with three points. We've shown time and time again we can play with anyone and tonight was no different. We will need our top performance against the No. 1 team in the country come Sunday and we are looking forward to the challenge."
The teams combined for 13 total shots, though they were each credited with only one on-target effort. Four different Utah players took at least one shot, with Kelly Bullock leading the team with two. Kylee Geis had her team's only volley on frame.
Kasey Wardle's work in goal allowed her to earn a third straight clean sheet and she is the first Ute to accomplish that feat since Carly Nelson in 2019. By allowing the Trojans only a single shot on goal, Utah held USC to its lowest total in that statistic since Aug. 31, 2018.
Wardle made her only stop of the evening in the eighth minute, denying a try from Croix Bethune. The Utes would outshoot their guests in the initial period by a 4-2 margin and also managed to secure a pair of corner kicks, but were unable to break the ice. The home team's best chance came on a set piece in the 34th minute, when the ball fell to Geis inside the box, but her right-footed effort sailed high and wide.
Two more opportunities came Utah's way in the opening minutes of the second half. First, a brilliant cross from Brooklyn Blaylock found Taliana Kaufusi just a few yards from goal, but Kaufusi couldn't redirect the ball on goal. A few minutes later, Katie O'Kane sent a cross into the box for Geis, but her back-heel shot was denied by Anna Smith and that would be Utah's final shot of the night.
The Trojans, meanwhile did their best to move in front, but the Utah defense remained stingy all night and would not let the visitors break the deadlock. The closest USC came to netting the game-winning score came on a corner kick in the 83rd minute, when the ball arrived on the foot of Brandi Peterson, but Haley Farrar, standing on the goal line, sent Peterson's try away. Aaliyah Farmer's shot moments later missed the target and neither side could muster another chance as the clock ran out on this scoreless draw.
One more home match remains for the Utes in the regular season and it pits them against No. 1 UCLA on Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.