The Weber State women's soccer team defended its home pitch and its lead in the Big Sky conference standings on Friday night as it pulled off a 2-1 come-from-behind win in overtime against Northern Colorado at Wildcat Soccer Field.
The two teams entered the match as the top-two teams in the Big Sky standings, with the Wildcats leading the table with 10 points and the Bears just one point back in second place.
In the 98th minute, Weber State found the golden goal as Olivia Barton found Madison Garlock on a long through ball to break the deadlock. Garlock, initially in on a breakaway, calmly crossed over a retreating defender and placed a low strike to the left post.
"The girls showed a lot of determination tonight," said WSU head coach Tim Crompton. Northern Colorado is a very good team, and we expected them to come in here and give us a very hard-fought match, which they did. I'm very proud of the effort and resiliency that our team showed tonight. This was a very big win for us at this point in the season."
After some early pressure from Northern Colorado, the Wildcats began to control the ball and started to generate some scoring chances of their own. Neither team was able to break through during the first 45 minutes of play.
In the 22nd minute, Northern Colorado produced the best scoring chance of the first half. After drawing a foul just outside the Wildcats' box, UNC's Mariel Gutierrez bent a beautiful strike around the Weber State wall, but a diving Nikki Pittman snared the shot at the last possible moment at the right post to keep the game scoreless.
The Bears finally broke through in the 63rd minute as Taylor Bray forced a turnover in the Wildcats' defensive third and knocked the ball to a sprinting Maddie Roberts, who got in one-on-one against Pittman and was able to place a shot past the WSU goalkeeper to the left post.
The Weber State defense weathered some intense pressure from Northern Colorado the next several minutes as the Bears looked to put the game away. In the 70th minute, Roberts broke through on another right-to-left diagonal run and was again in on Pittman one-on-one. But the Wildcat goalkeeper was up to the task this time, recording another fantastic diving save as Roberts attempted a shot to the left post.
After calming the game with some possession, WSU equalized in the 77th minute as Morgan Quarnberg scored her fifth goal of the year. Taylor Scadlock received a free kick from near midfield at the top of the box and was able to find Quarnberg with a nice pass to the right side of the UNC box, and the senior forward beat Northern Colorado goalkeeper Taylor Washington with a shot to the far post.
The Wildcats nearly found the match winner just more than three minutes later, as Scadlock broke free behind the Bears' defensive line. With her run taking her toward the left post, Scadlock tried a left-footed shot back to the far post, but Washington gathered the attempt and regulation play ended with the game knotted at one goal apiece.
The Wildcats controlled the overtime period, generating the only two shots of the extra period with Garlock's match winner ending the contest.
For the match, Northern Colorado outshot the Wildcats, 14-9 (8-6 in shots on goal), but the Wildcats were the more efficient, with two tallies on the night. Pittman recorded seven saves in total to earn the win for the Wildcats.
Weber State improved to 6-3-4 overall on the season and remains unbeaten in Big Sky play at 4-0-1. The Wildcats now own a three-point lead in the league standings over second-place Northern Arizona. The Bears dropped to 7-3-2 overall and fell to third place in the Big Sky table at 3-1-0.