Baylee Nielsen scored twice as Utah won at Western Kentucky, 2-0
Aug 23, 2013
Bowling Green, Ky. - Utah soccer opened the season in style thanks to a pair of goals from sophomore Baylee Nielsen in a 2-0 win at Sun Belt favorite Western Kentucky.
"I thought our team showed a lot of maturity and we played the way we wanted to play," Head Coach Rich Manning said. "We stretched WKU out and took the most of our opportunities. I thought we were confident, aggressive and got the result we wanted."
Nielsen matched her goal output from last season by bagging a brace against the Hilltoppers in the 2013 debut for both squads. She nudged Utah in front by capitalizing off a corner taken by Avery Ford in the 22nd minute. It was the Utes' only corner of the half as Ford, an All-Pac 12 performer last season, picked up the sixth assist of her career.
"We always want to make the goalie have to make a save, and Baylee had three shots, all on frame," Mannin added. "If she keeps doing that, she's going to be successful. It was the prototypical classy perofrmance from a center forward and we're going to need that this season."
Jenny Hutton had Utah's first scoring chance in the ninth minute and Allie Wisner fired a rocket on goal in the 43rd minute that was saved by the WKU goalkeeper. Ali Forsberg, Katie Taylor and Monica Okapal also registered shots for the Utes during the first 45 minutes.
Utah out-shot the Hilltoppers 7-5 during the first period and goalkeeper Lindsey Luke made two crucial saves, including one in the first minute of play.
"We planned to play Jill up front, but she has been so comfortable in her position all preseason," Manning stated. "She had such composure with difficult balls in the defensive third, and that's where we've seen the most growth. She created the second goal by simply coming forward and being able to do that is a big asset."
After Nielsen doubled the lead, Megan Trabert was denied a goal-scoring chance in the 52nd minute. Taylor and freshman Taylor Slattery also notched shots while Nielsen was denied a hat trick in the 59th minute. It looked as if Utah scored a third goal when the WKU goalkeeper bobbled a play in front, but the Utes were judged to be offside.
Luke was called into duty two more times in the second half and finished the game with four stops. It was the fifth shutout of the redshirt sophomore's career.
This was the first time that Utah had ever played a team from the Sun Belt Conference as the Utes won their first season opener since a 6-0 triumph over Utah Valley to begin the 2009 campaign.
Utah's next contest is on Sunday at 11 a.m. MT against Kentucky. The Wildcats reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
Utah Starting XI: Luke (GK), Ford, Groth, Hutton, Trabert, Wisner, Forsberg, Nielsen, Okapal, Robison, Taylor