Aggies Bounce Back With Two Second-Half Goals To Battle To 2-2 Draw With Nebraska Monday
Sep 2, 2013
LOGAN, Utah - Two second-half goals rallied Utah State soccer to a 2-2 double OT draw with Nebraska on Monday afternoon at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field. The Aggies' play matched the weather of the day, as it was rainy during the first half of the day with sporadic downpours before the rain and clouds cleared so the sun could come out, drying off and warming up the large, spirited crowd in attendance.
While USU's shutout streak came to an end at 305 minutes with two first-half Nebraska goals, the Aggies' unbeaten streak remains intact with Monday's result, improving to 3-0-1 on the season. Nebraska rebounded from a 3-0 loss at BYU on Saturday and are now 2-1-1 with Monday's outcome. Monday was also the first-ever meeting between USU and Nebraska and only the second Big Ten Conference opponent to visit Logan, as Northwestern came to town on in 2001.
"We'll take this draw. To go down 2-0 at half, that definitely wasn't our best half of soccer. Nebraska is a great team, but you know what? So are we. We didn't play to our ability, and Nebraska just had a faster speed of play than us in that first half. There were a couple adjustments with the kids starting to believe in themselves and that they can play with a team from the Big Ten Conference. I mean, two goals coming from behind? That shows the character of this team," USU head coach Heather Cairns said.
Junior goalkeeper Jeannie Woller, who was named the Mountain West Conference Soccer Defensive Player of the Week for the second week in a row earlier Monday afternoon, made a career-high 12 saves in Monday's match. The USU defense held strong and resolute throughout the match as Nebraska had a 26-17 shots advantage, including 14-7 in shots on goal.
"We came out hard, and even though we didn't come out with a win, we came back from being down 2-0 at half which, against a really good team was good for us," said junior defender Brooke Larsen-Leavitt, who shut down several of the Cornhuskers' attacks. "I think that showed a lot about our growth as a team so far. We're going to look to shutout the next team. We're already looking at Idaho State for Saturday."
"We're a little disappointed to just come out with a tie, but we're proud that we were able to get those two goals," Morgan said. "Obviously, we would have liked to come out with a win, but we'll take it. Getting that goal early in the second half was huge. That's what we talked about at halftime. We knew we had to get one early and then we'd be able to get momentum to be able to get more chances. I don't think we would have been able to come back if we didn't get that one early."
Nebraska goalkeeper Emma Stevens tallied four saves, as well as the Cornhuskers collecting a team save.
The visitors' attack burst through with both goals in a span of less than two minutes, as Sydney Miramontez slipped one past Woller from 15-yards out to the upper left corner of the net in the 36th minute. Shortly after that, Jordan Jackson got clear for a shot that she hit nylon with for a 2-0 Nebraska lead. That would remain the score for the remainder of the first half, with Nebraska holding a 9-4 shots edge, with Woller making six saves in the first 45 minutes.
"It's interesting. The first goal was just a 1v1 break and 1v1 defending breakdowns. I think we were shell-shocked and that's where that second goal came. We hadn't been scored on yet this season, those were the first two goals we gave up," Cairns said. "That shook us a little bit, but the defense definitely got their mojo back. When I say defense I'm talking about our goalkeeper and our backs, but you also have to look at how hard our midfielders were working coming back and defending, and our forwards were coming back and defending. We definitely got the mojo back and were able to create a lot of chances and limit their chances going forward. Our possession was much better in the second half. That helped because we were winning the ball higher up the field."
The Aggies came out of halftime full of vim, pressuring from the get-go. USU's offensive pressure was rewarded in the 56th minute when Roundy dribbled through the Cornhuskers' defense, and with a defender leaning on her trying to get the ball away, Roundy slid the ball past Stevens inside the right corner for her second goal of the season, tying sophomore teammate Kylie Dibb for the team lead.
USU's pressure continued and struck goal again, when sophomore defender Sara Lorscheider slipped a nice pass past Stevens to a wide open Morgan, and the junior buried the ball in the net for her first goal of the year.
The momentum went back-and-forth for the remainder of the second half and throughout overtime, with the Aggies and Cornhuskers both getting opportune chances, but being denied by the defenses and keeping the draw intact until the final whistle.
Utah State's defense withstood three Nebraska cornerkicks in the first extra session alone, as part of eight on the day, while USU had six.
"Those cornerkicks were very nerve-wracking. Number 11 for them, Mayme Conroy, was awesome in the air," Cairns said. "The kicks were nerve-wracking, but luckily we handled that pressure better than we did against UVU. With UVU, we were frantic. Today while we were under pressure, we were still fairly calm with that situation, which helps. That's just part of gelling together as a team and being in those spots and dealing with them."
Utah State heads north to take on border-foe Idaho State in Pocatello, Idaho, on Saturday, Sept. 7 at Noon. The Aggies then return home to host Arkansas on Friday, Sept. 13 in a 4 p.m. start.
Admission to all home USU soccer matches at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field is free.
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