OREM - Still holding onto second place in the WAC standings, the Utah Valley University women's soccer team wraps up its 2013 home schedule Friday night at Clyde Field against Grand Canyon. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be preceded by a Senior Night ceremony honoring UVU's four seniors.
As the last home match of the season, UVU will be honoring its four seniors playing for the final time at Clyde Field. Forwards Natalie Baker and Haley Curtis, defender Lexi Dunn, and goalkeeper Lauren Sack will each don the green and white one last time for the home supporters. Between them, this group of seniors has captured three Great West Conference regular season championships, two tournament titles, seven all-conference selections, three Player of the Year awards and two Newcomer of the Year awards. In all, this senior class has helped the Wolverines to a 25-6-1 conference record over the last four seasons.
The Wolverines (7-8-1, 5-3-1 WAC) added to that impressive conference mark last weekend when they bounced back from a defeat at the hands of Seattle University to top Idaho in overtime, 3-2. Senior Curtis scored the game-winning goal in the 95th minute to break a 2-2 deadlock and keep UVU in second place in the WAC standings.
With six goals on the season, Curtis is tied for the team lead with fellow forward Kali Stubbs. She also has a team-high six assists, a figure good for second in the WAC, to give her a season total of 18 points. Baker comes next with five goals followed by freshman Taylor Kirk's three. Kirk notched her third tally of the season Sunday in Moscow, scoring the second of UVU's three goals.
Goalkeeper Sack holds a 5-7-1 record and remains atop the conference in total saves (77) and saves per game (4.81). She ranks third in save percentage at .770. Backup keeper Jessica Duffin, who has seen 163 minutes of action this season, came on late at Idaho and earned the decision to improve to 2-1-0 this year.
Meanwhile, Grand Canyon (4-11-1, 3-6-1 WAC) enters the weekend riding on its best stretches of play this season. The Antelopes have won two of their last three matches, beating Idaho and New Mexico State before falling narrowly to Kanas City, 1-0. With 10 points in the conference standings, GCU currently sits in a tie for fourth place alongside Bakersfield. However, as part of its transition to NCAA Division I status, the `Lopes are ineligible to participate in the WAC Tournament.
Sophomore forward Cassie Beckwith leads GCU with four goals this season followed by three more from senior forward Samantha Bush. From there, six different `Lopes have tallied just a single time, including junior forward Jessica Fitzgerald and junior midfielder Chelsea Santos, who lead the team in assists with two apiece.
Senior Cat Lena has played all but 38 minutes this season at goalkeeper and is 4-11-1. She has stopped 68 shots at a rate of 4.25 per match.
Utah Valley and Grand Canyon met for the first time earlier this season in Phoenix, and the two sides lit up the scoreboard. Eight goals were scored that afternoon, as UVU prevailed for its third straight WAC win, 5-3. Baker found the back of the net twice while Stubbs scored for the third consecutive match. Redshirt freshman Kristen-Bailey Yoo added her first career goal, while Lexi Robison put the game on ice with a tally in the 88th minute.
A Wolverine win Friday night could potentially secure a spot in next month's four-team WAC Tournament, but UVU will need some help to get there. A victory coupled with an Idaho loss on the road at UMKC would ensure a tournament berth for Utah Valley and would lock up, at the very least, the third seed in the bracket. First-place and WAC unbeaten Seattle U has already secured a place at the tournament and can grab the first seed with a win and a tie in its two matches against this weekend.
The 2013 regular season comes to a close next weekend for Utah Valley as it travels to face NM State and UMKC. The Wolverines tied with the Aggies, 2-2, and defeated the Kangaroos, 2-0, in the season's first meetings.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
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