Oct. 28, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - Seniors Kami Montgomery, Ashlyn Mulford and Natalie Norris were honored in style Sunday as Utah State soccer's 4-0 win over Louisiana Tech gave the Aggies their third-straight Western Athletic Conference regular-season title and fourth in the last five years.
Utah State will share the title with Denver, who earned a piece of the title with a 2-0 road win over Seattle. Both the Aggies and the Pioneers ended league play with 20 points. This is the second time that Utah State has shared the title after earning co-champion honors in 2010 along with San Jose State. The three-straight WAC titles is the most since consecutive titles since SMU won every regular-season title from 2000-04.
With the win, the Aggies improve to 11-2-6 overall and 6-0-2 in WAC action. Louisiana Tech will also move on to the WAC Tournament with a 12-4-4 overall record and a 3-3-2 conference mark. This is the second time since USU joined the WAC that the Aggies have gone unbeaten in league matches with USU earning a perfect 7-0-0 record in 2007. This senior class now has a career record of 45-23-14.
"I feel really good about the way we are playing. I think we've been playing some of our best soccer this season these past couple of weeks. This is exactly the time you want to do it. Because as much as winning a regular-season championship is a great honor, and we are happy to bring that back to Utah State, the real prize is still yet to be determined. That is to be determined next Sunday. We want to give ourselves the best chance that we can of winning the conference tournament championship and the NCAA bid that comes with it," USU head coach Heather Cairns said.
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Mulford earned her seventh complete shutout, making five saves in the match. As a team, USU now has nine shutouts this season, including six in WAC play. The Aggies only allowed two goals in eight WAC matches after allowing only three last season.
"It's really awesome to get that shutout first of all. Second of all, to score four goals on Senior Day, in a conference championship game and every single person put so much effort in. We all came in knowing that we wanted the ring, wanted that championship title and we just went out and did as much as we could to get it and it showed. It's worked," Mulford said.
Sophomore forward Jade Tarver gave the seniors an early present with a goal in the 36th minute. She earned her fifth goal of the season with an opportunistic shot from five yards out. Tarver took the pass from junior midfielder Jennifer Flynn and with one touch snuck the ball past LA Tech goalkeeper Corina Brown.
Just over five minutes later, Tarver was at it again with a similar goal, taking a stellar pass from sophomore midfielder Ambryn McCallson to score from five yards out to put up 2-0 heading in to halftime.
The Aggies out-shot the Lady Techsters 9-3 in the first half with Brown making four first-half saves. Louisiana Tech did have three corner kicks to none by USU in the first 45 minutes.
Utah State faced some danger in the 47th minute when Laura Lefevour hit the post in the 47th minute and Paige Dunn had a shot blocked in the 49th minute.
Sophomore defender Lexie Morgan put USU up 3-0 in the second half with her second goal of the season in the 52nd minute. Morgan took the ball from sophomore forward Lauren Roundy and drilled a shot off the post that found its way into the mouth of the goal. The assist was the third of the season for Roundy.
Utah State sealed the victory in the 77th minute with sophomore forward Libby Lundquist's first collegiate goal. She cleaned up after a shot by Flynn was saved by Brown and deposited the ball in the back of the net.
The Aggies now prepare to host their first WAC Soccer Tournament Nov. 1-2, 4 at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field. USU earned a first-round bye and will be in action on Friday, Nov. 2 at 2:30 p.m. The WAC will announce the brackets for the tournament later Sunday.
Fans can follow the Aggie soccer program at twitter.com/USUSoccer or on facebook at facebook.com/USUSoccer. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at facebook.com/USUAthletics.
Fans can also vote for Norris for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate soccer, as the Aggie player is just one of 10 NCAA® women's soccer student-athletes who excel both on and off the field that were selected as finalists for the award. Fans can vote at http://www.seniorclassaward.com/athletes/natalie_norris/.
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