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Utes midfielder Katie Rogers had played all 97 grueling minutes when the ball ricocheted around the box and found her foot.
Rogers tapped it inside the left post and Utah survived and advanced past Texas Tech 1-0 in overtime of its opening NCAA tournament match.
"It happened so fast, I don't really know exactly what happened," Rogers said. "It just felt really good to win that game."
Utah had pummeled Texas Tech in the final 15 minutes of regulation, but finding the back of the net proved elusive. Before overtime began, the Utes huddled up to sing and dance along with Whitney Houston's "Dance with Somebody" and appeared unfazed by the moment.
"After regulation ended, we all got together and said 'we gotta keep this momentum going, we gotta keep the energy up,' " Rogers said. "I think in that first overtime, we kept pushing, we kept fighting and finally got one."
A swarm of players in the box obscured Utah coach Rich Manning's view of the goal, but the cheers of elation from his team were all he needed to hear.
"Katie's been really dangerous on set pieces all year, scored several goals," Manning said. "I know that if she's in the area, it has a good chance of getting in."
The Utes started the match absorbing Texas Tech's pressure, which Manning attributed to his team playing it safe to avoid an early tournament exit. But after a cagey first half, Utah won the ball further up the field and began pressing more often.
Leading Utes scorer Hailey Skolmoski nearly broke the deadlock in the 77th minute, finding some room to tee the ball up and fire a shot that nearly crept into the top right corner of Texas Tech's goal before deflecting off the crossbar.
"My team has always been behind me, so they've been fueling me to continue to push for those goals," Skolmoski said.
Texas Tech then nearly stole the game in the 89th minute, forward Tatum Barton shaking free for a shot that forced a nervy save from Utes goalkeeper July Mathias.
"You play a tournament-quality team, they have good attacking players and they're going to get a chance or two. You've got to be ready to make the play. ... That was huge," Manning said.
Next up for the Utes is a trip to Los Angeles to face No. 3 seed Florida State in a four-team pod that also features USC and the winner of the Texas A&M and TCU match Saturday night.
After five conference matches against fellow tournament teams and non-conference matches with BYU and Minnesota, Manning said Utah "fears no one" as the Utes' postseason run continues.
"We feel like we belong at this level," Manning said. "We're not surprised and we're not ready to go home."
R Utah wins its first home NCAA tournament match since 2006, 1-0 over Texas Tech.
• Utah brings its record to 6-0-1 all-time against Big 12 teams while playing at home.
• Texas Tech loses its first NCAA tournament opener and is shut out for the first time in an opener after outscoring opponents 14-0 in its first four opening matches.