ST GEORGE – The St George United finished up the regular season against division rival Real Salt Lake, losing 3-1. The United finished the season 1-7 and fifth place in the Big Sky North Division of the WPSL (Women’s Professional Soccer League).
With the clock shut off and the United looking like it would finish the season suffering a shutout, forward Mindi Beckstrom found attacker and fellow Dixie State University teammate Jennifer Mason for a goal just before time expired.
“We don’t ever give up,” Mason said. “We play to the whistle.”
The United was missing team leader Kalehua Harward, who was attending a funeral out of state.
“I am real proud how we finished tonight,” said United coach, Seth Klingonsmith. “We played this team earlier in the season and lost 8-1. We have improved with each game though, and that goal in stoppage time was a good way to end the season.”
The first half of the game saw the United facing against the wind and the ball in their half of the field a majority of the time. The defenses were able to thwart the attacks successfully for most of the half. Real Salt Lake inserted attacker Jessica Vanderveur into the lineup at the 21 minute mark and it paid immediate dividends. From the 18-minute mark to the 13-minute mark, RSL had eight shots on goal, with one succeeding at the 14-minute mark by team captain Annie Hawkins, assisted by Vanderveur.
“Jessica (Vanderveur) is relatively new to the squad and is recovering from a broken ankle and minor stroke, ‘ said RSL coach Dennis Burrows. “This is her third game back and she has played well.”
Also playing well for RSL was forward Darian Jenkins.
“We are lucky to have Jenkins,” said Burrows. “She has played on the junior national team and at UCLA. What you saw tonight is only a fraction of what she is capable of doing.”
The United weathered the storm of the offensive flurry and ended the half only down 1-0. The one-two punch of Jenkins and Vanderveur kept pressure on the United defense through midway of the second half when Vanderveur, who played collegiately in New Mexico, was substituted out. With 30 minutes to play, RSL attacker Erin Morrison dribbled 20 yards to the end line and pinpointed a shot from 15 yards to the right of the goal hitting the left bar and bouncing in for a 2-0 lead.
In the second half, the United had the wind at their backs and the offense picked up, resulting in several shots on goal. Exceptional play from RSL goalkeeper Jamie Wilkinson prevented a much closer game. In the 26th minute, a midfield pass caromed off two different United heads and was punched away by Wilkinson to prevent the ball from hitting the upper-right corner of the net.
The United almost scored again at the eight-minute mark. After a foul was called on RSL, United midfielder Whitley Davis kicked the ball from 40 yards out that once again required a leaping Wilkinson to punch away the ball from the upper part of the net. RSL immediately countered with Jenkins dribbling masterfully between two United defenders and delivering a great pass to a streaking Chansi Crompton, who scored from the right side from 15 yards. The goal gave RSL a 3-0 lead at the 7-minute mark.
Despite the deficit, the United continued to play hard. “This is the best game we have played as a team all season,” said Mason. “We have had some great individual play in previous games, but in this game we connected as a team, and despite the loss, we definitely had improvement.”
This is the United’s fourth season.
“We are doing our best to bring a soccer presence to the St George community and we appreciate the support the community has given to the team,” said Klingonsmith. “But for us to compete in this highly-competitive league, we really need more support from the community.”
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.