The Utah women’s soccer team is no longer just happy to be in the Pac-12 Conference. This year, the Utes are aiming to win the league.
Those were the words of coach Rich Manning in the wake of a 0-0 draw with No. 11 California, before 1,231 on Friday night. The words echoed the thoughts of a team that told themselves this summer that this is the year to make an impact in the conference.
Pac-12 soccerUtah 0, Cal 0The Utes come away with their fifth draw of the season in the Pac-12 opener against the No. 11 Bears.
» Utah finishes with a 11-10 edge over Cal on shots on goal.
So, it had to be a little disappointing to walk away with a tie after regulation and a pair of 10-minute overtimes. For much of the game, Utah was the better team, the more aggressive team. The Utes controlled possession and generated scoring opportunities they usually put away.
More importantly, Utah played well defensively, corralling a usually offensively potent Bears team that had been one of the best in the league up to this point.
"I think the frustration is that we keep coming away with ties," Utah forward Kaycee Buckley said. "We have to kind of find a way to move past that. But I’m proud of the way we played. That’s one of the best teams in the country, and I thought we had our chances to win."
In the end, the Utes come away with their fifth draw of the season. They are 4-1-5 and have proved themselves on a large level. But they are eager to take the next step.
It was Buckley who had the best chance of the night, a clear shot on goal deep into the second overtime. But she seemed startled to be wide open and put a shot right of the goalpost.
"I think she thought she was offsides," Manning said. "When she realized she was on, she just seemed surprised."
The Bears came close to scoring in the first overtime, but a point-blank shot hit the post and bounced away. Utah had a slight advantage in shots on goal (11-10) and an advantage in set pieces as well.
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