SUU Athletic Strategic Communication
The Southern Utah University soccer team earned their first win of the season Friday night with a 2-1 win over the Nevada Wolf Pack thanks to late game heroics from the Thunderbird front line.
“The progress and the growth is what means the most to me,” head coach Fred Thompson said. “We have a lot of potential on this team. All I asked of them today was to be better than we were before and then at halftime I gave them the challenge of being better than they were in the first half and I think they proved themselves. I knew they could do it and I have faith in them being able to continue to grow and get better as the season continues.”
The Thunderbirds struck first in this one as senior Jessica French scored her first goal of the season in just the sixth minute of play. French sent a corner kick for the Thunderbirds into the box where both teams battled for the ball in front of the goal. Eventually French was able to make her way into the box and serve up a quick pass from Jahna Tacson past the Wolf Pack goalkeeper to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead early.
The first half would come to an end with the Thunderbirds leading 1-0. Kaitlyn Caldera posted her second shutout half of the season making three saves on three shots faced in the opening half. Caldera would go on to finish with a career-high 10 saves Friday night.
The Wolf Pack tied things up in the second half when freshman Rachel Gensch was awarded a penalty kick for a Southern Utah foul in the box. Gensch snuck the kick past Caldera into the lower left corner of the goal to make it 1-1.
“This was a really challenging environment. We were playing on turf which is really quite fast to start with and then we had rain before and during the game,” Thompson said. “They bounced back brilliantly after that penalty kick. That was an opportunity for us to feel sorry for ourselves or for us to put our heads down, but we didn’t. We fought right back and got right back into it and in the end that was what was important.”
The game would remain 1-1 for most of the second half and just when it seemed the teams were headed for overtime, Meghan DeHerrera scored the go-ahead goal on a pass from Ally Thimsen in the 87th minute of play. Thimsen stepped around a defender and sent a pass to DeHerrera at the top of the box, allowing her to float the game-winning goal over the head of the Nevada goalkeeper.
“Ally had done a great job for most of the game, doing exactly what she did to create that goal, and that one was pretty much how we drew it up,” Thompson said. “She kept her composure and created a great opportunity for Meghan to score.”
The Thunderbirds will now turn their attention to the midwest as they make the trip to Wisconsin to take on the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 11:00 a.m. Mountain time.