Coming off of a winning but sluggish weekend of play, the Weber State University men’s soccer team dominated both sides of the ball for the full 90 minutes against the University of Utah on Friday night, scoring four of its seven goals in the first half and not allowing a single goal for the Utes.
“In practice we really emphasized on the forwards and finishing,” said WSU’s Matt Tidwell. “After practice I just felt more confident. My shot was there, and I put three in.”
WSU got things going early when Tidwell made a goal off the left goalpost and in from a muddled cross from the left in the sixth minute. In the 16th minute, WSU’s Cord Stimpson capitalized on an opportunity from a cross, also from the left side, with a one-touch volley into the back of the right side of the net. The Utes didn’t even get a shot until the 24th minute of play.
The intensity of play increased, with more physicality and hard fouls ensuing from both sides. A yellow card came in the 17th minute to WSU player Korbin Tafoya when he reacted to getting the ball stolen away from him by aggressively grabbing the other player and preventing him from advancing with the ball to the goal. Both teams played with great intensity and jabbed at each other from time to time.
Off of a counterattack in the 32nd minute, Tidwell brought up the ball on the left side, got through a slide tackle, then finished by kicking the ball so hard that it deflected off of the keeper and rolled into the back of the net for WSU’s third goal.
Tidwell and Stimpson seemed to take turns in getting theirs. Stimpson scored again when he chipped a shot over the keeper and off the head of the last defender in the goal to make it 4-0 in the 36th minute.
The intensity and aggressive play reached its apex when WSU’s Kyle Blanchard got caught trying to bring the ball past two defenders on the left sideline in the 37th minute. The ball got loose, and there was some standing, kicking and shoving until Blanchard finally pushed an opposing player in the chest. With the tension already high between the two teams, the official deemed the act worthy of a red card, sending Blanchard to the sideline for the remainder of the game and leaving WSU to play one man down for the rest of the match.
At halftime, WSU goalkeeper Jeff Rogers gave an angry and passionate speech on how the Wildcats were acting in the first half.
“I get sick of talking,” Rogers said. “We’re Weber State, and I hate when you try to prove something with your mouth. You don’t need to. You can do it with your feet, so shut up and do it with your feet.”
While play was still aggressive, both teams chirped at each other a lot less in the second half, resulting in somewhat cleaner play.
“We didn’t want the bad name of Utah playing with us on the same field,” Stimpson said. “They really didn’t deserve to be with us, so we wanted to let them know what’s up.”
Stimpson and Tidwell didn’t play for most of the second half, but before he headed to the bench, Tidwell finished off his hat trick in the 62nd minute with a shot inside the box, right over the keeper’s head and into the top shelf.
After a WSU player got slide-tackled in the box, Jeff Rogers came up from his box to convert the penalty kick in the 70th minute.
As if things couldn’t get worse for the Utes, WSU’s Christian Conejo put the cherry on top with a goal in the 88th minute.
WSU’s next home game will be Sept. 27 at 5 p.m. against Utah Valley University.