Warriors suffer first loss at home to San Diego
HERRIMAN — Giving a game away isn’t an easy task when taking on the top team in the league, but that’s exactly what happened with the Utah Warriors disappointing 26-16 loss to the San Diego Legion on Saturday.
At least according to Warriors coach Greg Cooper, who issued several points of frustration during his postgame interview.
Everything from sloppy ball-handling, not taking advantage of plenty of opportunity while giving up one particular easy try all conspired to hand Utah its second straight loss and a 6-4 record to San Diego’s league-leading 10-1 mark.
“I think it’s one that got away,” Cooper said. “We defended brilliantly, but we gave up an easy try after halftime and then we lost a certain try at the goalpost, and that’s the match.”
The try Cooper referenced came as the Legion touched down the ball across the line after just one minute played in the second half, giving them a 13-10 lead.
The two teams traded penalty kicks from there with San Diego edging ahead 19-16 in the 63rd minute, leading up to the Warriors’ biggest missed opportunity of the match.
In the 68th minute, an otherwise sure-handed Caleb Makene dropped a lateral from Calvin Whiting just short of the try line with nary a defender around him. The try would have given the Warriors the lead and an immediate seven points as Makene would have placed down the ball between the two goal posts.
But that was just the culmination of issues that plagued the Warriors throughout.
“We coughed up a little too much possession trying to push the passes,” Cooper said. “So this was two quality teams going head-to-head with two tries a piece, but there were a couple of moments there where we don’t make those (two big mistakes) that the result would have been different.”
Other missed opportunities came in the first half, when the Legion was issued three separate yellow cards, giving the Warriors a full 30 minutes playing with a man advantage, although they were unable to capitalize.
One particular yellow card issued came as a disappointment to Cooper, as he felt his team should have been granted a penalty try instead.
It came midway through the first half with San Diego intentionally seeking a penalty close to the try line with Cooper stating, “In normal circumstances that’s the penalty try and not just a yellow card when they collapse like that. So that was disappointing.”
But again, Cooper put most of the onus on his team, frequently referencing his team’s proclivity to push the pass rather than maintain possession on too many occasions.
“I think we would have punished them a bit more had we focused on maintaining possession,” Cooper said.
Utah’s two tries of the match came in the 7th and 35th minutes, respectively, although both conversion kicks were missed. The first was scored by Logan Tago, receiving an assist from Joel Hodgson with Makene accounting for the second try off an assist from Joe Mano.
With the loss Utah falls to 6-4 on the year while again not gaining a single bonus point. Next up will be a match at the Dallas Jackals before returning home to take on the Houston Sabercats.
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