The No. 17 Utah Utes overtook the UNLV Rebels Saturday 14-8 at Judge Memorial in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
Utah (1-0) had an explosive first quarter, starting with Sophomore Cody Cantrell’s running shot down the right wing just 50 seconds after face-off. UNLV (1-3) was quick to answer with Sophomore Connor White 30 seconds later. The Utes then went on a 5-2 run to put them ahead 6-3 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was full of solid defense and tough clears. Utah Goalie Alex Watanawekin and UNLV Goalie Mark Day had their work cut out for them. Each team saw the back of the net only two times the second quarter, bringing the score to 8-5 for Utah at the half.
Running into the third quarter, both teams had trouble capitalizing on the other teams’ defense. Connor White from UNLV drew first blood 6 minutes into the third quarter. Utah sophomore Matt Mersereau scored the Utes only goal in the quarter. The Utah offense worked the ball around till Mersereau got it at top right of the restraining box. He took a time-and-space shot and put the ball through the goalies legs. The third quarter wrapped up with UNLV getting one more, bringing the score to 9-7 for Utah.
Utah turned up the speed in the fourth quarter, starting with Freshman Patrick Griffin behind the goal feeding it to Cody Cantrell on the crease for a quick dish. Griffin would get two more goals this quarter, assisting the Utes 5-1 scoring streak to bring the final score to 14-8.
Utah Head Coach Craig Morris was very pleased with how the Utes played, especially on defense.
“I think the defense should be our strong point this year,” said Coach Morris. “We’ve got a lot of returners there, and a really good goal keeper. We are hoping that that crew will lead us. Overall I was really pleased with the way they played both in settled defense and how they handled the clears.”
On the offensive side of the game, the Utes are very young, but that doesn’t necessarily mean lacking quality. Utah has 19 freshmen on their lineup, but those freshmen accounted for 7 of the 14 goals.
“I was really pleased with how our young players played today,” said Coach Morris. “The younger players are not afraid; they are stepping in there and playing well.”
From here, Utah heads to the Pac 12 Tournament next weekend. They face Cal Berkeley on Saturday, University of Washington on Sunday, and No. 4 Chapman on Monday.