Kaufusi and Vitali help propel women’s football past Aggies

SALT LAKE CITY – Taliana Kaufusi hit in a 60e one-minute goal and that was all the University of Utah women’s soccer team needed Evie Vitali picked up his third clean sheet of the season in a 1-0 win over the Utah State Aggies on Sunday night at Ute Field.

That brings Utah’s record to 4-1-2 in 2022, while the Aggies drop to 2-2-3.

“I’m proud of our Utes for finding a way to win the game tonight,” the coach said. Hideki Nakada. “We made it harder than we should have and took longer than we should have, but we scored like we talked about, which I’m very happy about.”

In seven games, Kaufusi has already tied her all-year 2021 goal tally with four and finished atop the stat sheet in shots on the night with four. Kelly Bullock recorded his first collegiate point with an assist while Vitali tied his season high with five saves.

Both goalies were on their game in the first half, as USU’s Vitali and Diera Walton each recorded two saves. Walton denied a try in the sixth minute and Vitali made his first save at 18:24. The last 10 minutes of the half saw both teams again try their best to break the deadlock, but shots from USU and Utes’ Kaylie Chambers Kaitlyn Conley were saved, keeping the scoreless draw intact at the break.

Utah quickly took the lead in the second half, sending four attempts on goal early in the period before Kaufusi broke through. The Salt Lake City junior got the end of a perfect cross, sent to the right side of the box by Bullock. His right-footed shot from just outside the penalty area beat Walton for what turned out to be the game’s only score.

Vitali and the Utes backline ensured their slim lead held over the final half hour. The Aggies were limited to just two shots on goal in that span and the Utah goaltender was huge on both counts.

The best chance USU had to even the score came on their last chance of the night in the 78e minute. A ball into the box from Kylie Olson found Tenzi Knowles yards from goal, but his close-range shot was denied by a Vitali dive. It turned out to be the last stop the sophomore had to make to lock down his clean sheet and ice a win at Utah.

“We struggled to find consistency in our games, which is something we need to improve on,” Nakada said. “Utah State took advantage of our mistakes and we almost paid the price. I’m excited to get back to work and get ready for a big game against BYU on Saturday.”

The Utes’ next challenge will be a road test in Provo, Utah against No. 13 BYU on Sept. 17. Departure time is 7:00 PM MT.

Fans can follow on social media (Twitter: @UtahWSoccer | Instagram: @UtahWSoccer | Facebook: Facebook.com/Utahwsoccer).

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