This playing under the lights thing, apparently, suits the Utes.
For the first time in the program's history, the Utah women's soccer team flipped on the lights at Ute Field for a game. The result was an overflow crowd and an exciting 2-1 victory over Purdue.
The novelty of the lights, though, was almost a detriment to the team.
"It was a great environment," Utah coach Rich Manning said, "but it took us a while before we were really into the match. It took us a while before I think we were focused on Purdue and playing soccer."
Indeed, Purdue, despite entering the match with a 1-3 record, was the more aggressive team as the Boilermakers looked to make a statement against the 21st-ranked Utes.
With keeper Ashley Mason facing a flurry of shots and plenty of pressure in the first 20 minutes of play, the Utes were fortunate to be tied when Adele Letro finally found the net in the 40th minute.
Jen Christoffers fielded a pass and deftly slipped the ball between the legs of an onrushing defender and then touched a pass to Letro, who quickly sent the ball across the box and into the right side of the net.
That goal brought the crowd of 1,141—the second-largest crowd in Ute Field history—to its feet and shook off any remaining nerves brought on by the lights.
"She's capable of that," Manning said of the redshirt freshman Letro. "She's going to be one of the best we've had here."
Purdue and the Utes were fairly even in offensive stats in the first 45 minutes with the Boilermakers making six shots on goal. Utah had five shots on goal in the same span. Kim Comisar evened the score in the 51st minute when she bounced a shot off the left post and back into the net past a diving Mason.
That, however, was about as much as the Boilermakers could do over the rest of the match as Utah controlled the ball, the clock and the outcome of the game.
Defender Melissa Wayman scored her second goal of the season for the 5-0 Utes when she took a touch pass from Amanda Feigt in the 59th minute and lofted the ball over a leaping Purdue keeper from 25 yards out on the left wing.
"As a defender I don't get to go forward very often," Wayman said. "So I was a little surprised. I just saw that shot and went forward with it."
The Utes limited the Boilermakers to only three shots in the second half with only one of those being on goal. Utah, on the other hand, kept the pressure on Purdue by firing off nine quality shots.
"We defensively shut down their offensive attack," Wayman said. "I think playing under the lights was a great atmosphere and environment. But it took us about 20 minutes for everybody to come together."
The Utes will be back on Ute Field Sunday, though during the day, when they host Denver at 1 p.m.
BYU 2, DENVER 0: At Provo, in an extremely physical game, which included two Denver yellow cards in the first half and a head-to-head collision 45 seconds into the second, BYU (5-0-0) defeated Denver (1-2-1) 2-0. BYU connected in the 35th minute. Brooke Thulin made her characteristic flip-throw that deflected off a Denver player, finding Jamie Beck right beside the goalpost. The header marked her third goal of the season. The Cougars got their second when Katie Larkin received the ball on the left side of the goal, weaving in and out of three defenders on her way to a 35-yard sprint that resulted in her first goal of the season.The Cougars now take on No. 22 Texas on Monday, 8 p.m.
UTAH STATE 0, AIR FORCE 0: At Missoula, Mont., Utah State soccer and Air Force ended in a 0-0 draw in the opening match of the Montana Nike Cup on Friday. The shutout was the first of the season for the Aggies.
"I was encouraged by the fact that our defense held for the first time all year," said head coach Heather Cairns. "Our attack wasn't as sharpas it has been and we didn't put the ball awaywhen the opportunity presented itself." The Aggies moved to 0-3-2 with the tie, while Air Force went to 2-2-1. USU has now gone nine matches without a win.
Utah State kept pressure on the Falcon defenseall afternoon, recording 19 shots to Air Force'ssix. The Aggies out-shot the Falcon's 6-1 inovertime, but were unable to find the back of the net.
Goalie Lisa Willardson worked the entire matchfor USU as she recorded her first career shutout.Senior Chanel (Blaquiere) Weddle, who had beenunable to play this season due to a leg injury,saw her first action of the year and contributed one shot.
Dana Peart led the Aggie attack with four shots,while Charity Weston, Rachelle Dixon and KD Keller each recorded three. Utah State plays Montana on Sunday in the final match of the Montana Nike Cup. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.