Women’s soccer is making another comeback, Upends Arizona

SALT LAKE CITY — For the second time in 2022, the University of Utah women’s soccer team conceded a goal in the first half, then fought for the win and defeated the Arizona Wildcats 2-1 in the team’s Pac-12 opener Friday night at Ute Feld.

The Utes now have a record of 5-2-2 and start Pac-12 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 the coach Hideki Nakada. “We had a fantastic reaction after going under early and I felt like we controlled most of the game after that. It was a great way to start the conference game. Starting tomorrow, we are preparing for a great Washington team next week.”

Utah’s goals were scored by Taliana Kaufusi and Mary Granger, while the Utes dominated the stat sheet with a 12-7 advantage in shots, including a 5-2 lead in aim attempts. Kaufusi’s score was her fifth of the year, meaning she’s already surpassed her 2021 total, while Granger’s goal was her first as Ute, making her the fifth other Utah player to accomplish the feat in 2022.

That game wasn’t scoreless for long and Arizona got on the board with their first shot of the night when Sami Baytosh sent a through ball into the box and Gianna Christiansen netted it in the 14th minute to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead . However, the Utah defense stiffened after that and allowed their visitors just one more shot on target for the rest of the evening.

Offensively, the Utes delivered a quick response after just over seven minutes. A perfect pass from Avery Brady found Ryan Cull on the left side of the attacking area and Cull’s cross into the box was headed by Kaufusi to equalize in the 20th minute. Cull’s assist puts her at the top of the team leaderboard with three, while Avery is credited with her first assist of the season.

It was a tie until half-time, but after the break the Utes took the initiative and immediately went on the offensive. That pressure paid off in the 54th minute as Utah earned a corner and Madeleine Vergura sent a perfect ball to the edge of the six yard box where Granger was there to head it past the keeper and put the home side ahead. Granger’s assist was her second of the current campaign.

In the last 36 minutes, the Wildcats tried to find an equalizer, but their hosts wouldn’t let them. A chance came in the 84th minute when Quincy Bonds shot from the right side of the box but was saved courtesy of a diver Evi Vitali kept the score frozen. A corner kick in the closing moments of the game gave Arizona one last opportunity, but Vitali snatched the ball out of the air to secure their team’s conference triumph.

next up
The Utes will play their first Pac-12 away game on Sept. 29 when the schedule takes them to Seattle for an 8 p.m. game against the Washington Huskies.

Fans can follow along on social media (Twitter: @UtahWSoccer | Instagram: @UtahWSoccer | Facebook: Facebook.com/Utahwsoccer).

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