“That’s just being tired, making a tired mistake and having a couple people miss an assignment,” said SUU head coach Becky Hogan of the defensive penalty that resulted in the try. “I told the team going into overtime that we were either going to get a break or give up a break, it was just a matter of who got one first.”
Although the Thunderbirds were outshot by a total of 19-7 in the end, they had several goal-scoring opportunities that just didn’t come together. Junior forward Sabrina Hernandez was able to use well-timed runs to beat the defense and get off a clear shot on multiple occasions, once hitting the post and another time having the ball sail just wide of the net.
“Sabrina is a gamer,” explained Hogan. “We just have to get her to work in practice on the things that make the difference between a great shot and a goal. If she works on a few things she could score 12 goals for this team.”
The Thunderbirds were able to find the back of the net once in the match, thanks in part to Hernandez. In the thirty-first minute the SUU forward made an attack that saw the ball be deflected by a defender and the UCR keeper and then land near the top of the box. Southern Utah freshman forward Madison Wood raced to the ball and fired a shot in between the posts to give the T-Birds a 1-0 lead.
“The young players on this team are going to get better every game,” commented Hogan. “They will become more confident as they realize this is soccer, it’s the same game they have been playing for years.”
The advantage only lasted for a few minutes as the Highlanders came back to level the score in the thirty-eighth minute when Tyler Cunningham sent a well-played cross in front of the net for Ashley Graves who redirected the ball into the net for the equalizer.
The count remained 1-1 over the final 52 minutes of regulation thanks to solid defensive play on both sides and seven saves from Thunderbird goalkeeper Charly Booth.
Neither team was able to gain an advantage until the second overtime period when a defensive foul inside the box set up a penalty kick for UC Riverside. Andrea Morales had her try blocked by Booth but was then able to gather the rebound and notch the game winning goal for the Highlanders.
Southern Utah starts the year with a record of 0-1 after the loss while UCR improves to 2-0. The Thunderbirds will return to the pitch next week for a matchup with the University of Utah. The game will be played on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Salt Lake.