SALT LAKE CITY – Katie Rogers scored in overtime to advance Utah past Texas Tech, 1-0, in Saturday's NCAA Tournament action.
"This is so surreal," Rogers said. "When I scored all my emotions flooded over me. This is the last time playing on this field and I never wanted to let go of these girls when they were hugging me after the goal. Being able to celebrate on this field in front of my family and with my teammates is an amazing feeling."
In the 97th minute, freshman Natalee Wells fired a corner kick into the penalty area. Rogers was able to get free at the far-left post and stab the ball home for the winning goal.
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"What a great win for our team and players," head coach Rich Manning said. "Katie has been great on set pieces all season and got a piece of the ball on the scramble in the box.
"We had some nerves at the start of the game and I thought we played it too safe in the first half. However, we were able to generate some momentum in the second half by pressing higher up the field and winning the ball. We're excited to move on to the next round and we know that there is more to do. We're determined to continue to prove ourselves."
The Utes advanced to the second round for the third time in program history, doing so via a contest that went into overtime on each occassion.
"It's hard to put into words because we have literally been working for 11 months to achieve this goal and get a win in the NCAA Tournament," Hailey Skolmoski added. "To do it on our home field and continue our season is such an awesome feeling."
Utah created some early chances with Natalie Vukic unleashing a pair of shot. TTU goalkeeper Lauren Watson was also quick to deny Taylor Slattery off a corner in the 19th minute. The game remained scoreless as Watson was in the right place to stop Holly Daugirda in the 32nd minute.
After halftime, Texas Tech finally forced a save from July Mathias. The sophomore stopped Margaret Begley and Jordie Harr during a five-minute span to preserve the score line.
Utah ratcheted up the pressure in the final 30 minutes with Vukic and Max Flom creating scoring chances that were held by Watson. Slattery, Vukic and Eden Jacobsen each fired high while Skolmoski went wide and Cabria Turang had a try snuffed out by a TTU defender.
The final chances for both teams during regulation almost ended the match. Skolmoski skimmed a ball off the crossbar in the 77th minute and Mathias had to come out of goal to close down a charging Tatum Barton in the final seconds. A last-ditch effort by Aleea Gwerder kept TTU from winning the contest.
The Utah defense notched its 11th blanking of 2016 while Mathias moved into third place on the single-season shutout list with her seventh of the year.
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"I thought it was a well-played game and congratulations to Texas Tech on an excellent performance today," Manning stated. "They were tough to break down and created some good opportunities of their own. We have great respect for their staff and program.
No. 23 Utah will now play No. 10 Florida State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday in Los Angeles. The kick-off time will be announced at a later date.