UVU women's soccer beats SUU in exhibition

A UVU soccer player kicks the ball  during the women's college soccer exhibition match against SUU at Zions Bank Real Academy in Herriman on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021.

Julianna Carter and Anna Pickering each scored goals to lead Utah Valley to a 2-0 shutout win over WAC foe New Mexico State on Thursday night at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah.

Utah Valley improves to 3-2-1 overall and 2-1-0 in WAC play. New Mexico State falls to 2-4-0 overall and 2-1-0.

“We love playing at home,” said Utah Valley head coach Chris Lemay. “The venue (Zions Stadium) was a real environment tonight. We want to thank RSL for allowing us to use the stadium. We’ve been creating chances in our last few matches and we were happy that we finally were able to finish a couple. I thought the team was disciplined and stayed mature throughout the match and now we’re going to recover and get ready for Saturday.”

The Wolverines got the game winner in the 22nd minute as Amber Tripp took the ball down the middle of the field and made a nice lead pass to Heather Stainbrook just inside the box on the right side. Stainbrook fired a shot that was deflected off the out-stretched hand of the NM State keeper. Carter positioned herself on the left side and fired in the rebound for the eventual game winning goal. Carter now has two goals on the season, both of which have been game winners.

Anna Pickering gave the Wolverines an insurance goal in the 89th minute after Lily Haskins dribbled the ball down the field and made a lead pass to Pickering on the right side. Pickering then gathered the ball and fired a shot into the back of the net. Haskins was credited with the assist.

Utah Valley outshot the Aggies 22-2 on the night, including an 8-2 advantage on frame. The Wolverines had nine corner kicks to NMSU’s two.

Stainbrook led the Wolverines with a match-high six shots, including one on frame. Tripp had four shots, Carter had three, and Pickering had two.

Brooklyn Nielsen picked up the shutout win in goal for UVU. She had a pair of saves in 90 minutes of action.

Utah Valley will continue WAC play against New Mexico State on Saturday at the RSL Zions Bank Indoor Training Field. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.

The 2020-21 WAC Volleyball Tournament is headed to Orem, Utah for the second consecutive year. Originally, NM State was set to host this year’s tournament. However, the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, N.M., will be unavailable this spring due to current COVID-19 restrictions excluding the Aggies from hosting indoor athletic events in Doña Ana County.

Instead, Utah Valley will open its doors to Lockhart Arena to host the upcoming tournament after putting on the tournament one year ago. This also marks just the second time in school history that the Wolverines will be on their home court for the WAC tournament.

The tournament dates will remain the same with the first round of matches to be held on April 1 and the championship match set for April 3. All six eligible teams will participate in the 2020-21 WAC Volleyball Tournament.

UVU track heads to WAC championships

The Utah Valley University men’s and women’s cross country teams will head to Seattle for the 2020-21 WAC Cross Country Championships that will be contested Saturday, Feb. 27 at Jefferson Park Golf Course.

The conference championship meet will open with the women’s 6K race at 11 a.m. MT/10 a.m. PT followed by the men’s 8K race at noon MT/11 a.m. PT. The meet will be hosted by Seattle University.

Due to Western Athletic Conference and Seattle University COVID-19 protocols, no spectators will be allowed to attend the meet, but live results can be followed by visiting WACSports.com.

Normally contested in the fall, the 2020 WAC cross country season was moved to the spring of 2021 due to COVID-19. This Saturday’s WAC Cross Country Championship will mark just UVU’s third meet of the condensed season.

After posting a third-place finish at the season-opening Dixie State Invitational in Hurricane, Utah on Jan. 23, the Wolverine women then went on to win UNLV’s Silver State Collegiate Challenge on Feb. 1 in Las Vegas. Maddie Bench Empey has been UVU’s top finisher in each of the two meets on the season, as she placed fourth at the Silver State Challenge (20:58.7) and fifth at the Dixie State Invite (20:48.3). Mazzie Melaney Preston, Maggie Zwahlen and Hannah Branch have all also posted top-10 finishes on the season for the Wolverine women.

The Utah Valley men’s squad will enter this weekend’s conference championship as the two-time defending WAC champions after winning the meet in both 2018 and 2019. This season, the UVU men have posted a third-place finish at the Sliver State Collegiate Challenge and a fourth-place finish at the Dixie State Invite. Geofrey Kemboi was the team’s top finisher at the Silver State Challenge by taking fourth overall with an 8K time of 24:23.8, while Britain Reynolds led the way at the Dixie State Invite by placing 15th (24:25.6).

On Saturday, it is anticipated that Bench Empey, Melaney Preston, Zwahlen, Branch, Taylor Viertel, Zoe Hales, Skye Jeppson, Kate Richardson and Elizabeth Wilcox will compete for the Wolverine women, while Kemboi, Reynolds, Hawk Call, Adrian Jones, Kale Sharp, Austin Hone, Joshua Peters, Jackson Pratt and Talon Rodriguez will compete for the men’s squad.

Last season, the Utah Valley men won the 2019 WAC Championship with 44 points while the women’s team finished second with 69 points. The now graduated two-time WAC Athlete of the Year Kevin Lynch won his second straight WAC individual title by winning the men’s 8K race (24:48.72), while Call placed eighth (25:21.96), Kemboi ninth (25:27.91), Reynolds 12th (25:36.46) and Jared Gonzalez-Perez 14th (25:43.45) to all earn All-WAC honors.

The UVU women posted their third straight runner-up finish at the WAC Championship last season and the now departed Savannah Neuberger led the way by taking sixth with a 6K time of 21:39.63. Zwahlen finished right behind her to take seventh (21:45.130), while Bench Empey placed 15th (22:11.96), Melaney Preston 20th (22:23.49), Richardson 21st (22:25.39) and Jeppson 22nd (22:27.05). Both Neuberger and Zwahlen both earned first team All-WAC honors for the Utah Valley women a season ago.

Saturday’s conference championship meet will feature competitors from UVU, host Seattle U, California Baptist, Dixie State, Grand Canyon, New Mexico State, Tarleton, and UT Rio Grande Valley.

On Saturday in Seattle, the weather is expected to be cloudy with temperatures slated in the low 40s.

Daily Herald sports reporter Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

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