OREM — After opening the season with a trio of one-goal losses, Utah Valley University looks to break through for its first win when it starts a three-game road swing at defending Big Sky champion Idaho State on Tuesday. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. at Davis Field in Pocatello.
Live stats and video — provided by the EISN Network — can be accessed through UVU's athletic website.
Last week, UVU (0-3) suffered a pair of losses to in-state foes, falling 1-0 at Utah State on Monday before succumbing to Weber State in double overtime, 2-1, in Orem on Thursday. A converted penalty in the 50th minute proved the difference at USU despite a staunch defensive effort over the run of play from the visiting Wolverines. The Aggies fired 16 shots and earned 10 corner kicks but only from the penalty spot were they able to find the match's lone tally.
In Thursday's home opener, Utah Valley struck first against WSU when forward Natalie Baker tracked down a long pass and finished in a one-on-one with the keeper. The 11th minute goal held for 48 minutes until the Wildcats pulled level just on the other side of intermission. Neither side could find the decisive goal in regulation or even a first overtime period, but a WSU strike four minutes into a second overtime ended the game and gave the Wolverines their third one-goal defeat on the young season.
Baker joined fellow forwards Haley Curtis and Kali Stubbs on the list of UVU's goal scorers — each with a single tally to her name. Midfielder Lexi Robison, a member of the preseason All-WAC team, has one assist on the year as does true freshman defender Melanie Ostler.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Lauren Sack, another preseason All-WAC member, has been busy over the initial three matches. The senior is tops in the Western Athletic Conference with 18 saves — five more than UMKC's Nina Tzianos whose total of 13 has come through four games. Sack also leads the league in save percentage (.750) and is fourth of nine in goals against average (1.91).
ISU (2-1) will counter with a talented goalkeeper of its own in sophomore Sheridan Haspic. The San Clemente, Calif., native was the Big Sky Tournament MVP last season after stopping three shots in the championship-deciding penalty kick shootout against Montana.
The Bengals return seven starters from last season's Big Sky title-winning squad, including back line stoppers Allyson Stainbrook, Taylor McBride and Vanessa Cabilan. The senior Stainbrook — last week's Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week — was second team All-Big Sky in 2012, while McBride and Cabilan earned honorable mention honors.
Also returning is junior forward Amanda Ellsworth who scored nine goals last season on her way to the Big Sky Co-Offensive Player of the Year award. Ellsworth has two goals this season, striking in each of ISU's two wins.
The reigning Big Sky champions got off to a great start to open the 2013 season, winning the Gem State with victories over Boise State, 2-1 (OT), and Idaho, 2-0. Texas Tech handed the Bengals their lone blemish Friday, keeping ISU off the board in a 3-0 win.
It was the first loss for ISU since falling to Stanford by the same score line in the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament.
Tuesday marks the tenth meeting all-time between the two schools, and Idaho State owns a 5-2-2 advantage. In last year's edition, the Bengals edged the Wolverines, 2-1, in overtime at Clyde Field. UVU was victorious the last time it played in Pocatello, though, earning a 5-1 win during the 2012 season.
Utah Valley's final non-conference road trip continues Saturday when the Wolverines meet former Great West Conference rival Houston Baptist in the opening day of the Montana Cup in Missoula. UVU will face host Montana the following Monday.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.