ON THE PITCH
Utah State soccer (3-1-1) continues its month-long road trip this week, as it takes on Minnesota (3-1-2) on Friday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m. (MT).
Utah State fans can follow Friday’s match in a variety of online formats. The match will be streamed live on BTN2Go online, though a subscription is required to view. Live stats will be provided through GameTracker. Links to each option will be posted on the Utah State soccer social media pages before the start of the match.
Minnesota welcomes the Aggies with a 3-1-2 record. The Gophers have played the majority of their preseason games at home, most recently hosting the Minnesota Classic. The team went 0-1-1 in the tournament, falling to UC Santa Barbara (1-0), before topping Providence (1-0) in double overtime. Minnesota returns seven starters and 19 total letterwinners from a year ago. Senior forward Sydney Squires guides the Gopher offense, leading the Big Ten with five goals on the year. Kailee Sharp and Maddie Nielsen have split time in the net, tallying a combined 10 saves while allowing three goals. Stefanie Golan is in her sixth season as the head coach at Minnesota, where she has an overall record of 64-35-14.
Friday will mark the first-ever meeting between Utah State and Minnesota.
TAKING ON THE BIG TEN
Friday will be just the seventh match Utah State has played against a current Big Ten school. The Aggies have previously met Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska and Northwestern on the pitch, posting an 0-5-1 record. Utah State’s last match against a Big Ten program was in 2015, when the Aggies fell to Iowa, 2-1, in a neutral-site match in Missoula, Mont.
WINNING WITH MEANING
All three of Utah State’s victories this season have come in shutout fashion. The Aggies opened the season in a 1-0 win over South Dakota State, followed by a 2-0 victory against Montana that same weekend. Last week, USU topped Idaho State, 2-0. With those three shutouts, Utah State leads the Mountain West and ranks 32nd nationally. Guarding the net for the Aggies, senior goalkeeper Sara Cobb also leads the conference and ranks 18th in the NCAA, as she is credited for the shutouts.
REPRESENTING AGGIE SOCCER
This weekend, Utah State Athletics will induct its 15th Hall of Fame class. Among this year’s eight inductees, is Utah State soccer’s Jayme Gordy. Gordy played for the Aggies from 1997-2000, and will be the first soccer player to be added to Utah State’s Hall of Fame. In her time as an Aggie, Gordy was the first player to earn all-conference honors, as she earned all-Big West accolades each year of her career. At the conclusion of her senior season, Gordy held the school record in career goals (35) and total points (76), which now rank second and third, respectively, and still holds the school record for shots on goal with 185 over her four seasons. She was also the team’s leading goal scorer in three of her four seasons, where she still ranks second (13) and fifth (11) in single-season goals scored, and third (28) and eighth (24) in single-season points. In a 9-2 win against Wisconsin-Green Bay during her junior season, Gordy became the first player in school history to record three goals in a game and is currently one of just eight USU players to have a hat trick performance.
FRIENDS IN DIFFERENT TIME ZONES
There will be a familiar face for several Aggies on the other side of the field Friday. Minnesota sophomore midfielder TJ McKendrick is a native of Highland, Utah, where she was teammates with USU senior forward Wesley Hamblin at Lone Peak High School. Additionally, McKendrick played club soccer for Celtic FC, where she was teammates with Aggie sophomores Alecia Robinson, Olivia Burnett and Kaitlin La. Junior Jordyn Chung-Hoon and freshmen Ashley Hughes and Kami Warner also played for the Celtic FC organization in other age groups.
LEADING THE WAY
Freshman midfielder Ashley Cardozo has scored three game-winning goals this season, a number that leads the team, the Mountain West and the NCAA. She is one of 12 players nationally with three game-winners on the year.
CLIMBING THE LADDER
Senior forward Wesley Hamblin continues to climb the all-time assist list in the Utah State record books. She is currently tied for third place, recording the 15th assist of her career in the Sept. 1 win at Idaho State.
SHOT FOR SHOT
Utah State recorded a season-high 15 shots, nine of which were on goal, in last week’s win at Idaho State. Among those, freshman midfielder Ashley Cardozo took four shots, all of which were on frame. Her four shots on goal are the most by an Aggie this season. Additionally, she is the first to have a perfect on-goal percentage of more than two shots since senior forward Wesley Hamblin went 4-for-4 against Colorado State on Oct. 23, 2015.
WHAT WE PLAY FOR
As the winners of the 2016 Mountain West title, UNLV will host the 2017 Mountain West Championships. The tournament will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 31, continuing with semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 2, and the championship match on Saturday, Nov. 4. Only the top six teams in the Mountain West standings will advance to the conference tournament. The winner of the tournament will receive the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Utah State was picked fourth in the Mountain West Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league’s 12 head coaches. The Aggies earned 97 points in this season’s poll, along with one first-place vote. Last season, Utah State finished tied for third in the final standings with a 7-4-0 conference record. San Diego State was picked as the favorite to win the league for the fifth year in a row, tallying 110 total points and three first-place votes.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Utah State posted a 2-0 road win at Idaho State last week in its only match. Freshman midfielder Ashley Cardozo put the Aggies on the board in the 25th minute, capitalizing on a free kick just outside the goal box. In the final 30 seconds of the match, sophomore forward Alecia Robinson added a goal with a double assist from Cardozo and senior forward Wesley Hamblin. Senior Sara Cobb played the full match in the net, tallying two saves and helping the Aggies to their third shutout of the season. On the day, Utah State held the slight shot advantage on Idaho State, 15-13, but the Aggies recorded a season-high nine shots on goal, while the Bengals had two.
The Aggies will return to the Midwest next week for a pair of matches. Utah State will play at Eastern Michigan on Friday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m. (MT) and at Oakland on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 10 a.m.
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