No. 10 Simon Fraser Overcomes Slow Start, Sprints by Utah

VANCOUVER, WA After falling behind 2-0 early in the contest, a 9-1 run would help put No. 10 Simon Fraser up 9-5 at the half, on route to a commanding 18-8 win over Utah in a neutral site game played at Kings Way Christian Field.

SFU's first out of conference win of the season, improves the Clan's record to 6-1 on the year, marking the team's best start since 2009, when Fraser posted a 14-0 record during the regular season and playoffs, through to the Quarterfinals of the MCLA Tournament.

SFU Junior midfielder Sam Clare (Ladner, BC/Vancouver College) - 5g, 2a, led all scorers with 7 points, while Fraser's attack trio of Ward Spencer (Saskatoon, SK/Evan Hardy Collegiate) - 5g, 1, Tyler Kirkby (Burnaby, BC/Burnaby South Secondary) - 2g, 4a, and Lyndon Knuttila (Maple Ridge, BC/Thomas Haney Secondary) - 3g, factored in on 14 of the Clan's 18 goals, with a combined 15 points on the night.

Utah sophomore midfielder Dillon Tran (Cottonwood Heights, UT/Brighton High School) opened the scoring, followed by junior attackman Patrick Griffin (Salt Lake City, UT/Judge Memorial Catholic HS) to shock Fraser with an early Utes lead of 2-0. With the Clan looking disorganized to start, Kirkby would get SFU settled down at 2-1.

Attackman Ward Spencer seemingly put the team on his back, playing an impact role on five of the Clan's next six goals to seize the momentum in SFU's favor. Consecutive solo efforts by Spencer attacking the Utes net, gave Fraser their first lead at 3-2. Utah would then tie the game at 3-3, with sophomore attackman David Bicker (Salt Lake City, UT/Skyline HS) converting a Utes man-up to end the first quarter at a stalemate.

Spencer would continue to jump start the SFU offense, finding Clare to put Fraser ahead for good at 4-3 to start the second quarter. Spencer would then finish a feed from senior midfielder Brendan Farrell (Milton, ON/St. Michael's College), and then put a pass from Kirkby in the back of the Utah goal, on the other side of Clare's second of the game, to extend the Clan lead to four at 7-3.

SFU freshmen midfielder Nick Kapusty (Penticton, BC/Princess Margaret Secondary) continued to pile on with the first goal of his collegiate career from long range, followed by Knuttila from the side of the Utes net, to cap off six unanswered goals with the Clan now firmly in control at 9-3. Despite being pushed back on their heels, Utah refused to go quietly into the intermission, with Tran assisting sophomore attackman Nash Cantrell (Boise, ID/Timberline HS) and then scoring again himself to decrease the deficit to 9-5 at the half.

The third quarter would be much quieter for SFU on the scoresheet, scoring just three goals in the frame but maintaining a comfortable margin with only two goals against. Clare struck first with his hat trick goal to double up the Utes at 10-5. The two teams then traded goals for the rest of the period, with Tran scoring both Utah goals, first at even strength and then on the man-up, and goals by Lyndon Knuttila and junior midfielder Casey Foster (Edmonton, AB/St. Francis Xavier), assisted by Kirkby, stretching the SFU lead to five at 12-7.

Fraser would ramp up the tempo again in the fourth quarter. Kirkby would find Clare to make it 13-7. Knuttila and Spencer would then score on solo efforts; before Clare returned the favor to Kirkby to complete a 5-0 run that put the Clan up by nine at a score of 16-7.

Cantrell would add one more for the Utes, followed by a coast-to-coast goal from SFU sophomore defender Alex Thomson (Coquitlam, BC/Gleneagle Secondary). Kirkby would then register his fourth assist of the game on Clare's fifth goal of the evening to add an exclamation mark to an 18-8 win for the Clan.

Simon Fraser will now have a day off in the Beaver State, before continuing south to Corvallis where the Clan will be looking to avenge a loss in last year's PNCLL Semi-Finals when they play Oregon State at 2:00 pm on Sunday, March 16.

Utah will drive through the night before concluding a busy stretch of five games in nine days when they host Arizona in Salt Lake City at 4:00 pm MDT on Monday, March 17.


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