Blitzz 4, Sahuaros 0
Chris Agnello didn't know it, but he was helpless to stop the cooler of water which was about to be dumped on him. The Blitzz players figured dousing their coach was warranted following Utah's 4-0 victory over Arizona.
As much as it was in celebration for a victory, it was also for going undefeated at home in league play, and possibly putting themselves in position to win the division.
"That was a team decision. We decided he needed a shower to celebrate," said Matt West, who played in his first game in nearly two months. West's return couldn't have been more timely, with one game remaining until the playoffs.
The Blitzz are a better team with West playing, as they all admit. He helps control the midfield, which eases tension on the defense but also creates goal-scoring opportunities for the forwards. Saturday night he even contributed something he never had — goals.
West scored twice to contribute to the rout in front of 4,142 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
"It couldn't have come at a better time," said West, who missed the last 10 games with a knee injury.
West didn't start against Arizona, but he knew was going to play. When the moment came in the 55th minute, he said his heart was racing 200 beats per minute.
"I was just really excited to get out there," he said.
His teammates were even more excited when he scored, and not because it was his first goal of the season. West's goal bumped Utah's lead up to 3-0, and in the D3 league, four points are awarded for a win and one more if a team scores three goals or more.
With playoff positioning at stake, every point matters. Four teams from the Western Division make the playoffs, and the Blitzz have already locked up a berth. The top two teams get home-field advantage in the first round.
Utah moved into second place with the win, three points behind Chico, which has concluded its season. Third-place Tucson has three games remaining, two against Arizona, the worst team in the league. So unless a miracle happens, Tucson will win the division.
That scenario puts supreme importance on Utah's season-finale next weekend against Riverside, a team the Blitzz are 1-0 against this season. If they win they pass Chico in the standings and in turn would host Chico in the playoffs. A loss sends the Blitzz on the road for the first round of the playoffs, and they are 0-2 at Chico this year.
With West in the line-up, Utah likes its chances at Riverside.
"I love playing with Matty. He showed what an asset he is to the team," said B.J. McNicol.
Utah forward Jorge Estrada started the onslaught in the 27th minute after Rich Breza used his hand to help make the pass to Estrada. It was obvious to just about everyone on the field, and Arizona's players were livid. They had reason to be upset because the Sahuaros had a goal negated the minute before because of offsides.
Breza tacked on a goal just before halftime on an assist from McNicol.
The win wasn't a total celebration for Utah. Defender Neil Armour tore his MCL in the ninth minute during a scuffle for the ball.
"When the guy made the tackle I knew right away my knee went out," said Armour, who was brought in during the middle of the season to shore up Utah's defense. The Blitzz should still be solid at the back come playoff time. They played Saturday without defender Glenn Puckrin, who Agnello just voted for as the D3 Player of the Year.
Utah's first playoff game will be Aug. 19. If it's a home game it will likely be played at BYU's soccer field because the team's access to Rice-Eccles Stadium ran out Saturday night.