After a flying start, the North Dakota State women’s soccer team fell to the Utah Utes last Sunday at Dacotah Field. Lizzie Lukas scored for the Bison, before the Utes showed their strength to beat the Bison 3-1.
The Bison could not have started better, scoring within three minutes from kickoff. Midfielder Amy Yang found space behind the Utah defense after playing a give and go with Lauren Miller. Yang drove to the end line before slicing in a cross that was met by Lukas with the header. It was Lukas’ first goal of the season, and first since an ACL injury last year.
Seven minutes later, the Bison had a chance to double the lead. Mariah Haberle’s cross from the left flank led to a scrabble in the middle. The ball dropped to Yang who would have her attempt blocked.
The lead did not last for much longer, as Utah’s Holly Daugirda would win a header in the Bison defensive third, and cross to her team’s leading scorer Hailey Skolmoski. The sophomore dispatched the shot behind Monica Polgar, her fifth of the year, to tie the score.
Skolmoski hunted for her second in the opening minutes of the second half. Within three minutes, she had a breakaway blocked by the recovering Genna Joyce, and another clang off the post.
The Utes continued to pressure the Bison goal. Polgar showed impressive reactions to cleanly catch a headed effort by Utah’s Natalie Vukic from six yards out.
The Bison rarely threatened in the second half, possessing the ball but lacking the final cutting edge. A pair of consecutive corners offered the Bison their best chance in the 64 minute, with Yang’s strike rising over the crossbar.
Another Utah goal came though, and Skolmoski would be the provider. A defensive miscue by the Bison gifted Skolmoski the ball, who calmly slid the ball across to Max Flom. Flom did not miss the open net to give the Utes the lead in the 75 minute.
Insurance for the Utes came with eight minutes remaining. Skolmoski picked up her second assist of the day, this time finding Cabria Turang. It was Turang’s first goal of the year.
Head coach Mark Cook said that the play was “pretty average.”
“I thought the effort was good but the execution was not. There were some mistakes at the back and they were a good team,” Cook said.
The Bison were outshot 18-8, and 8-2 with shots on target. Possession was close to even, but Utah held a slight advantage, mainly in the second half. The Bison also struggled with fouls, committing 12. Polgar finished with five saves.
The Bison now head out for a pair of games this weekend in North Carolina, first against UNC Asheville on Friday before playing UNC Wilmington Sunday. The Bison return to Fargo with one last game before conference play on Tuesday, playing host to Jamestown at 7 p.m. at Dacotah Field.