Utah State Soccer Opens Season Against Utah At Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday
Aug. 16, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - KICKING OFF - Utah State begins the 2012 season against in-state rival Utah on Friday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, home of Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake. This is the fourth-straight season that the Aggies have played a match at Rio Tinto. In 2009, the Aggies defeated Utah 2-1 in overtime with a Shantel Flanary golden goal. In 2010 and 2011, USU earned a pair of one-goal wins against Weber State with a 2-1 win in 2010 and a 1-0 victory last season.
SERIES HISTORY vs. UTah - Utah holds an 11-3 all-time lead against Utah State. The Aggies have won two of the last three meetings, including a 1-0 win last season in Logan. Junior forward Mari Miyashiro scored the only goal of the match to give USU the win. Utah State also captured a dramatic 2-1 overtime win against Utah at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2009.
Utah brings back 17 returning letterwinners and redshirts from last year's team, including eight starters. The Utes lost four key players to graduation, all of whom were staples of the Ute starting lineup throughout their careers. Center backs Lauren Dudley and Lauren Porter combined to start 164 of 166 games through four years on the back line. Utah was picked to finish tied for eighth in the always tough Pac-12 conference. Last season, the Utes were 10-9-1 over all and 6-5-0 in conference action.
SERIES HISTORY vs. uteP - UTEP holds a 2-1 series lead over the Aggies. The last time Utah State faced the Miners was in 2008 in Logan. In that game, USU edged out UTEP 2-1 behind goals from Lauren Hansen and Erin Salmon who scored the game-winner. Current Aggie assistant coach Alyssa Lowry played all 90 minutes in that game in the USU backline.
LAST TIME OUT - Junior midfielder Kendra Pemberton knocked in the lone goal to give the Utah State soccer team a 1-0 win over Southern Utah in the Aggies' only exhibition of the season at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field on Aug. 17.
This is the second-straight season that a Pemberton goal has given the Aggies an edge over the Thunderbirds in an exhibition. Last year, she netted USU's lone goal in a 1-0 Aggie victory on Aug. 13 in Cedar City.
Despite scoring only one goal, the Aggies had the offensive advantage throughout most of the match, out-shooting the Thunderbirds, 23-3. SUU goalkeeper Charly Booth made eight saves in the match. Utah State split time between two goalkeepers with senior Ashlyn Mulford and freshman Jeannie Woller both getting 45 minutes of shutout action.
Several newcomers had great showings for the Aggies, including freshman forward Danielle Gaztambide who had two shots on goal and junior transfer midfielder Robin Hansen who had several good offensive chances.
GAMETRACKER - Fans can follow all the Aggie home matches through the USU web site at www.UtahStateAggies.com via GameTracker, a free service, which updates play-by-play and statistics throughout the game.
ON THE PITCH - Following the season opener at Rio Tinto against Utah, the Aggies will host UTEP on Sunday, Aug. 19 at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field at 12 p.m. After the match with the Miners, Utah State will take to the road to face Creighton and Nebraska-Omaha in Omaha, Neb. Head coach Heather Cairns will return to her old stomping grounds as she was an assistant coach for the Bluejays from 1999-2002.
NEW AND IMPROVED - Fans coming to Chuck and Gloria Bells Soccer Field will find some improvements this season. Permanent bleachers have been added to the west side of Bell Field, giving the field a capacity of near 1,000. The press box will remain on the west side. The team benches will now be on the east side of the field which is a change from previous seasons. Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field was originally built in 2002.
Utah State has a tremendous 62-25-14 record at Bell field, including a 9-0-1 record in 2011.
The field also has new wind screens and banners, acknowledging Utah State's WAC Tournament and WAC regular-season titles. There is also a banner recognizing the Aggies first NCAA appearance in 2011.
As always, admission to all Utah State soccer games is free. Fans will now people able to park in the gravel lot on the west side of the field and use the west side as the main entrance. Seating will be available on the west side as well as the grass on the south side of the field.
THE NEW CREW - There are 11 newcomers on the 2012 roster, including two transfers. Junior Jackie Tillotson , who is the sister of all-WAC defender Summer Tillotson, joins the team this season as a transfer from UNLV. Junior midfielder come to Utah State from Iowa Western Community College.
PEMBERTON LEADS THE AGGIE OFFENSE - Last season, Kendra Pemberton led the team with nine assists last season. She now has 14 career assists and is third in career assists. She was one assist behind Lindsey Smart's (2006-09) who had 15. Flanary is the all-time leader in assists with 17. Pemberton also set the record for single-season assists with her nine last season. HEAD COACH Heather Cairns - In her 10th season at Utah State is Heather Cairns, who became the winningest coach in school history after recording her 27th career victory on Sept. 30, 2006, defeating Eastern Washington 1-0. In her eight seasons at the helm of the Aggies, Cairns has compiled a 90-75-19 (.541) record passing former head coach Stacy Enos (1996-2000) who went 26-59 (.306) in five seasons with the Aggies.
Heather Cairns has a 36-9-6 (.765) record in WAC matches, giving her the highest winning percentage among the nine league coaches in conference matches.
OFFENSIVE POWER - Despite losing all-time points scorer and two-time WAC Offensive Player of the Year, Shantel Flanary, USU still has plenty of firepower. The Aggies return 20 of the 30 goals they scored last season. Kendra Pemberton is the top returning with seven goals and nine assists last season for 23 points. Junior midfielder Jennifer Flynn scored five goals with three assists for 13 points, while senior defender Natalie Norris scored four goals for eight points last season.
WAC BITS - New to the WAC's soccer league this season will be Denver, Seattle, UTSA and Texas State. Denver returns 19 letterwinners from a team that placed third in the Sun Belt last season. Denver also returns nine of its 11 starters from last season. Seattle U enters its first season as a full NCAA Division I member. SU returns seven starters from a team that beat the highest ranked opponent in school history last season, upsetting then-No. 8 Portland. UTSA welcomes back eight starters this season. UTSA placed fourth in the Southland Conference with a 5-3-1 mark. Texas State returns 17 letterwinners and seven starters after going 8-1-0 in Southland conference play last season to place second. Texas State won the Southland conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season.
AGGIES PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN THE WAC - Heading in to its final season in the Western Athletic Conference, the Utah State soccer team was picked second in the WAC preseason poll, selected by the conference's nine coaches and announced by the league office Tuesday.
WAC newcomer Denver was picked atop the poll with six first-place votes for 62 points. The Aggies were second with the remaining three first-place votes for 59 total points. Utah State has won three of the last four WAC regular-season titles, including winning a share of the 2010 title.
Fellow league newcomer, Seattle, was picked third with 47 points, followed by San Jose State in fourth with 38. Idaho was voted fifth with 32 points just ahead of newcomers UTSA and Texas State, who were tied for sixth with 27 points apiece. Rounding out the poll is New Mexico State in eighth place with 19 points and Louisiana Tech in ninth with 13.
Utah State was picked sixth in the 2005 preseason poll, the Aggies' first year in the WAC, fourth in 2006 and third in both the 2007 and 2008 preseason prognostications. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 polls, USU was picked first. Last season, the Aggies and the San Jose State tied for the top spot in the preseason poll.
Senior Natalie Norris was named the WAC's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. She has earned the postseason honor in both 2010 and 2011. For the second-straight season, Idaho senior forward Chelsea Small garnered Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors. Idaho and Denver each had three honorees, while Utah State had two named to the preseason all-WAC team. San Jose State, Seattle and UTSA each had one representative.
Utah State placed two players on the preseason all-WAC team with junior midfielder Kendra Pemberton joining Norris earning honors. Both Norris and Pemberton earned first-team all-WAC honors last season. Norris was part of the Utah State defense that allowed only three goals in WAC play last season. Her 64 career matches started are the most by any player in the WAC this season. Pemberton was second on the team in scoring by netting seven goals along with school-record nine assists for 23 points.
2011 Preseason All-WAC Team Chelsea Small, Jr., F, Idaho Kelsey Lord, Jr., F, San Jose State Kayla Santacruz, So., F, San Jose State Shantel Flanary, Sr., F, Utah State Jill Flockhart, Jr., MF, Idaho Lauren Sanchez, Sr., MF, San Jose State Chandra Salmon-Christensen, Sr., MF, Utah State Kendall VanDine, Sr., D, Fresno State Jessica Ingram, Sr., D, San Jose State Natalie Norris, Jr., D, Utah State Liz Boyden, Sr., GK, Idaho