SUU soccer still in contention for the WAC tournament

Southern Utah University women’s soccer fought hard over the weekend, facing two tough teams in the Western Athletic Conference. 

The Thunderbirds had two home games this past weekend. During their first matchup against the Lancers of California Baptist University, the Thunderbirds fought for a well earned 0-0 draw. 

Their second matchup against Grand Canyon University was filled with pregame drama, with the game being moved to Dixie High School in St. George, Utah, and kickoff rescheduled for 2 p.m. due to poor weather conditions in Cedar City. The match was not in favor of the Thunderbirds, resulting in a 4-0 loss to Grand Canyon. The Thunderbirds are now 9-4-2 and 4-3-2 in WAC play. 

SUU versus California Baptist University
Both teams entered the match determined to get into the win column. The name of the game was goaltending. Redshirt sophomore Megan Short started for the Thunderbirds, and Noa Schumacher started in net for the Lancers. Both of them led the way for their teams, saving shot after shot. The score was deadlocked 0-0 at halftime. 

Both teams picked up the momentum in the second half with scoring chances for either side. In the 46th minute, freshman Sammie Sofonia blasted the ball, and what looked to be a goal was miraculously saved by Schumacher, keeping the score tied. The intensity picked up with both teams having chances but no goals to show. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. 

SUU’s defense stepped up big in the second half. Head coach Kai Edwards spoke on the team’s defensive efforts. 

“We got more detailed at what we do. At the very end we did change; Addison Larsen stayed with Lourdes Bosch because she is the best player on the field,” said Edwards. “Kiki Stewart and Larsen’s leadership on the field definitely helped with those two being cool and confident during the game.”  

Short collected her sixth shutout of the season. The Thunderbirds improved their school record to  eight shutouts. The previous record was six shutouts from the 2007 season. 

SUU versus Grand Canyon University
Inclement weather was the main headline in Sunday’s matchup, forcing Senior Day for the Thunderbirds to St. George. The venue for the game was moved to Dixie High School. 

Short played phenomenally in the first half, with a 16-2 shot deficit in favor of GCU. Short saved the first seven out of eight shots on net. The only goal of the first half was in the 23rd minute with junior Gianna Gourley scoring for the Antelopes. The Thunderbirds had scoring chances by  Larsen and sophomore Natalia Sepulveda; both shots went wide of the net. The Thunderbirds went into halftime down 1-0. 

The second half of the game produced scoring chances for the Thunderbirds, outshooting GCU 13-9. But the Antelopes made their scoring chances count, scoring three more goals in the second half. Gourley scored her second goal of the day in the 53rd minute. Grand Canyon went on to win 4-0. 

SUU honored three of their players: seniors Rachel and Julia Hunt and redshirt junior Kate Schirmer. They are currently playing their final seasons with the Thunderbird team. 

Even in the loss, Megan Short makes team history, moving into ninth in single-season saves with 81. This is Short’s second time on this list. She is tied for fifth with 94 saves from the 2021 season. Short also improved her all-time saves mark, currently ranked fourth at 175 saves. 

Conference tournament picture
The Thunderbirds currently sit seventh in the WAC standings with two games left in the regular season. The top six teams qualify for the WAC tournament in Seattle, Washington. The Thunderbirds sit on the outside looking in, being only a point behind California Baptist for the sixth spot and two points behind Grand Canyon, who is currently in fifth. 

Next on deck
The Thunderbirds will travel up I-15 to Orem, Utah, to face in-state rival Utah Valley University. 

The Wolverines are currently second in the WAC standings and boast a 11-3-3 record and a 7-1-1 record in WAC play. 

Junior Heather Stainbrook leads the Wolverines with 10 goals and 26 points on the season. 

Game details
Southern Utah will face Utah Valley University on Thursday, Oct. 27, with kickoff at 6 p.m. This will be the only time in the regular season that the Thunderbirds face off against the Wolverines. 

The game will be held at Clyde Field and will be streamed on ESPN+. 

Article by: Anthony Colasuono
Photo courtesy of SUU Athletics