PROVO, Utah - The University of Utah women's soccer team could have used any number of excuses for losing to Wyoming in Wednesday's first round of the Mountain West Conference Championship tournament. Instead, the Utes overcame injuries, illness, suspensions and a goalkeeper making her first collegiate start to shut out the Cowgirls 2-0 at South Field on the campus of BYU.
Utah was without starters Melissa Crespo and Amanda Sanchez, who were out due to receiving red cards in the season finale against Wyoming Saturday. Two starters - Jen Christoffers and Nicole Cardon - and a key reserve - Alyssa Toomey - were questionable for the game with injuries. Leading scorer Adele Letro was sick. Goalkeeper Lynzee Lee did not play for disciplinary reasons.
The Utes, who had lost to the Cowgirls 4-1 Saturday, employed a new formation and tallied two opportunistic goals. Meanwhile, sophomore goalkeeper Emalee Rogers only saw two shots on goal, but both were good scoring chances. The Centerville, Utah native turned both away and recorded her first collegiate shutout.
"I feel like it was a great show of character from our team," Utah head coach Rich Manning said. "We just hung in there, it wasn't an exciting game. It wasn't an open attacking game. It was a game of good teamwork and hard work and we feel good about that."
The Utes got on the scoreboard in the 40th minute. Kelly Isleib got a pass into the box, where Wyoming goalkeeper Ashley Sheppard came out to challenge the on-rushing Lauren Hair, who was able to get there first. Hair got the ball around Sheppard and calmly pushed it into the wide open net for her fourth goal of the season.
Utah got a huge insurance goal just more than five minutes after the intermission. Hair put a nice cross into Letro about 10 yards in front of the goal. Letro's shot was saved, but the rebound came right to Chelsea Card, who scored her second goal of the season on a header. From there, the Utes' defense controlled the contest and preserved the shutout victory.
Utah will advance to play No. 1-seeded UNLV Thursday at South Field on the BYU campus. Kickoff for that contest is slated for 1 p.m.