USU Soccer Heads to the Cornhusker State to Face Creighton and Omaha This Week
Aug. 22, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - KICKING OFF - Utah State began the season 2-0 for the fourth-straight season. Last year, the Aggies won their first nine matches before a road loss to Tulsa. This week, Utah State hits the road, traveling to the Cornhusker State. USU will take on Creighton on Friday, Aug. 24 at 4 p.m. (MT) and Omaha on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 11 a.m. (MT). Last week, the blue and white started strong with a win against Utah at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, 1-0. The Aggies won their home opener against UTEP 2-1.
SERIES HISTORY vs. CREIGHTON - This is the first meeting Utah State and Creighton. The Bluejays are 0-1-0 this season after a 1-0 loss to Iowa State in their season opener on Aug. 19. The Cyclones earned the win, scoring in the 92nd minute.
Head coach Heather Cairns will return to her old stomping grounds as she was an assistant coach for the Bluejays from 1999-2002. She was an assistant coach for Creighton head coach Bruce Erickson.
SERIES HISTORY vs. OMAHA - This is also the first meeting between Utah State and Omaha. The Mavericks also opened the season against Iowa State, falling 4-0 on Aug. 17. Before taking on the Aggies, Omaha will travel to Missouri State on Friday, Aug. 25.
LAST TIME OUT - Utah State soccer rallied from a 1-0 deficit with goals from senior defender Natalie Norris and sophomore midfielder Kylie Dibb in the final 13 minutes of the match for a thrilling, 2-1, win over UTEP on Aug. 19 at Chuck & Gloria Bell Soccer Field. With the win, USU improves to 2-0 on the young season and runs its home unbeaten streak to 14-straight matches.
Sunday was also the Aggies' second one-goal differential victory of the season after Friday's exciting 1-0 OT win over Utah at Rio Tinto Stadium and was USU's fifth-straight one-goal match dating back to year's WAC Championship season. UTEP evens its record at 1-1 on the season after beating Utah Valley on Friday, 2-1, scoring in the waning minutes. The Aggies also have won the last two meetings with the Miners, both by 2-1 scores and rallying from 1-0 deficits in both times, to even the series at 2-2.
Norris netted her goal in the 77th minute off a deflection after two shots were turned away by UTEP goalkeeper Sarah Dilling, blasting a shot to the upper right corner of the goal for the equalizer. Less than four minutes after coming on as a sub for junior forward Mari Miyashiro, Dibb took a pass from sophomore midfielder Lexie Morgan and cracked a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that kissed off the right post and into the net past a sprawling Dilling. It was Dibb's first career goal and game-winner as well.
Aggie freshman goalkeeper Jeannie Woller made five saves in her Utah State debut. USU out shot UTEP, 13-10, with Dilling making three saves. The Aggies had 10 shots in the second half alone after just three in the first 45 minutes. USU had a 5-3 advantage in cornerkicks and the fouls were even at 11 apiece.
After a scoreless first half, UTEP got on the board in the 48th minute after Brittany Kindzierski blasted a left-footed shot from 20-yards out to the bottom right corner of the net past a diving Woller for the Miners' 1-0 lead.
ON THE PITCH - After the trip to the Cornhusker State, Utah State returns home for a single home match on Friday, Aug. 31 against Northern Colorado. Last season, Utah State earned a 2-1 win over the Bears in Greeley, Colo. The Aggies then travel to Orem, Utah, to take on Utah Valley on Sunday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. USU and UVU have not met since 2010 when the Aggies handled the Wolverines 4-0 in Logan.
SPREADING THE WEALTH - In two wins so far this season, four different Aggies have earned a point. Senior defender Natalie Norris, junior midfielder Jennifer Flynn and sophomore midfielder Kylie Dibb all scored goals for USU. Sophomore midfielder Lexie Morgan added an assist in the game-winning goal by Dibb against UTEP.
STRONG IN GOAL - Heading into the 2012 season, the Aggies knew that replacing all-WAC goalkeeper Molli Merrill would be difficult. Senior Ashlyn Mulford and freshman Jeannie Woller have been up to the task in the first two matches. Mulford earned the shutout win against in-state rival Utah, while Woller earned her first collegiate win against UTEP. Combined, they only allowed one goal in 183 minutes, making 12 saves.
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.
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.
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 Robin Hansen comes to Utah State from Iowa Western Community College.
MULFORD AND NORRIS EARN WAC HONORS - Utah State soccer players Natalie Norris and Ashlyn Mulford have been named the Western Athletic Conference Playes of the Week; the league announced on Monday. Norris earned WAC Defensive Player of the Week honors, while Mulford was named the first-ever WAC Goalkeeper of the Week.
This was Norris' second WAC Player of the Week honor after, winning the award in 2010. This was the first conference honor for Mulford.
Norris, a senior defender from Sandy, Utah, (Alta HS), played every minute of the Aggies' first two matches on the USU backline that allowed only one goal in 183 minutes of action. Norris anchored the USU defense to a, 1-0, overtime shutout victory over in-state rival Utah and a 2-1 win against UTEP on Aug. 19. Norris also scored the game-tying goal in the 77th minute against UTEP to tie the score at 1-1.
Mulford, a senior goalkeeper from West Valley City, Utah (Cyprus HS), earned her first career win and first shutout against in-state rival Utah at Rio Tinto Stadium on August 17. She helped guide the Aggies to a 1-0 overtime win over the Utes for USU's fourth-straight win at Rio Tinto Stadium. She recorded seven saves in the 93-sminute match to keep Utah off the board. She helped lead USU to its second-straight win over Utah.
The Aggie senior goalkeeper was also named College Sports Madness Women's Soccer WAC Player of the Week for her exceptional performance during this past week's action. College Sports Madness identifies the highest impact players nationally and from each conference each week.
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 92-75-19 (.546) 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