Oct. 16, 2011
RENO, Nev. - - Two second-half goals powered the Utah State women's soccer team over Nevada Sunday as a defensive battle transformed into a 2-0 Aggie victory.
With the win, Utah State betters its record to 11-4-1 overall and 3-1-0 in Western Athletic Conference action. The three WAC wins gives USU nine points in hopes of qualifying for the upcoming WAC Tournament in Fresno,Calif., Nov. 3-6. The Aggies have now won at least 10 matches in six of the last nine seasons. Utah State is now just two wins away from tying the school record for wins in a season when the 2008 squad went 13-8-1. Nevada falls to 3-13 overall and 1-3 in league action.
The victory was the Aggies' first road win since defeating Northern Colorado, 2-1, on Aug. 28. Utah State is now 3-4-1 on the road this year.
"In the first half we just played okay. At halftime, we really made a bit of a mental shift. We made a pact as a team that we were going to come out and be optimistic. Whether we scored in the first minute of the half or the last minute of the half, we were going to keep pushing. We were going to believe that we would score," USU head coach Heather Cairns said.
The first half was a clean sheet kept by the two goalkeepers, Utah State senior Molli Merrill and Nevada's Dana Moreno. Merrill ended the half with one save, while Moreno made three. The Aggies took the first three shots of the match off the legs off senior midfielder Chandra Salmon-Christensen, senior forward Shantel Flanary and sophomore midfielder Kendra Pemberton.
In the 70th minute, the Aggies broke through when junior defender Natalie Norris snapped the 0-0 tie with a header for her third goal of the season, including two that proved to be the game-winner. Two of Norris' three goals have come off corner kicks, including Sunday's. The goal came off of a corner kick by senior defender Summer Tillotson, who earned her fifth assist of the season. Tillotson leads the team with 33 corner kicks this season.
Utah State doubled its lead in the 86th minute when Pemberton continued her red-hot streak. The sophomore has scored nine points in the Aggies' last three matches. The reigning WAC Offensive Player of the Week put the Aggies up 2-0 late in the match. USU's second goal was also started off of a corner by Tillotson. Pemberton scored by taking a deflection off of a Wolf Pack defender after the corner and scoring on an open net, for her fifth goal of the season. Pemberton five goals are combined with seven assists this season for 17 points, which is just three points behind Aggie point leader Flanary.
Merrill and the always-tough Aggie defense registered their sixth shutout of the season and second in WAC action. Merril ended the match with three saves.
The Aggies remain on the road next week with just one match on the docket. USU will travel to Moscow, Idaho to take on the University of Idaho on Friday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m. (MT) for its final regular-season road match.
Fans can follow USU soccer on Twitter at http://twitter.com at USU Soccer and Utah State Athletics at USUAthletics.
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