Utah State Hosts No. 23 Washington on Thursday
Sept. 11, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - KICKING OFF - Utah State soccer (5-1-2) returns home to Logan this week to take on one of its toughest opponents of the season in No. 23 Washington on Thursday, Sept. 13 at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field at 4 p.m. This is the Aggies only match of the week after three-straight road matches. Last week, the blue and white went 1-0-1 in a pair of matches at the Viking Classic in Hillsboro, Ore. The Aggies defeated Eastern Washington, 1-0, on Sept. 7 and tied host Portland State 0-0 in double overtime.
SERIES HISTORY vs. WASHINGTON - Washington holds a 2-0-0 record over Utah State. The last time the two teams met was in 2009 when the No. 25-ranked Huskies defeating the Aggies, 2-0, in Seattle. In the first meeting in 2001, Washington stopped Utah State 4-1 in Logan.
In its last meeting, the No. 23 Washington women's soccer team blanked one of the best programs in the nation, the 2010 National Champion, Notre Dame, 3-0.
Washington improves to 7-0 on the year, tying its best start since 2008. It is the second best start in school history in which head coach Lesle Gallimore's team went 8-0 that year. Notre Dame falls to 3-3-1 in 2012.
AGAINST THE BEST - This is the second time that Utah State has take on Washington when the Huskies were ranked, falling to UW 2-0 in 2009 when it was ranked No. 25. The Aggies are looking for their first ever win against a ranked opponent. Last season, USU lost to No. 2 Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., 3-0. In 2010, Utah State faced two ranked teams in No. 24 Long Beach State in Long Beach aand No. 8 BYU in Logan, falling to both teams. In 2009, the Aggies once again played two ranked teams, No. 20 Oklahoma State in Logan and No. 18 BYU in Provo.
LAST TIME OUT - For the fourth time in eight matches, Utah State soccer played beyond 90 minutes, battling to a 0-0 double overtime tie with host Portland State at the Viking Classic in Hillsboro, Ore., on Sunday.
The Aggies are now 5-1-2 overall, including 2-0-2 in overtime matches. Last season, USU had only four overtime matches the whole season, going 1-1-2. Portland State is now 1-4-1 this season after the tie. This was the second-straight shutout for the Aggies and third of the season.
Senior goalkeeper Ashlyn Mulford was named Defensive Most Valuable Player with two shutouts in the Viking Classic. Eastern Washington's Cassie Black earned Offensive MVP honors. Three other Aggies earned all-tournament honors in sophomore forward Jade Tarver, freshman midfielder Maris Hamblin and junior midfielder Kendra Pemberton.
"I am so excited that she (Mulford) got that shutout. Ashlyn definitely earned the shutout today. She made some big saves. Probably some of the biggest saves were in the first few minutes of the match. They kind of unleashed a flurry of shots. She definitely earned both of the shutouts this weekend. She never got rattled and was very confident," Cairns said.
ON THE PITCH - After the three-match road trip against Utah Valley, Eastern Washington and Portland State, Utah State now return home for a three-match home-stretch, its longest of the season. The Aggies will host Pac-12 powerhouse Washington on Sept. 13, followed by in-state rival BYU on Sept. 20. The Aggies will end the homestand against future Mountain West Conference foe Wyoming on Sept. 23.
SECOND-HALF WONDERS - In five of Utah State's eight matches this season, the Aggies have been held scoreless in the first half. The only matches in which USU has found the back of the net in the first half are against Creighton, Omaha and Utah Valley. USU is 2-0-1 when scoring in the first half. The Aggies have scored five goals in the second half, and the cardiac kids have scored two overtime goals.
ON THE BOARD - After going five-straight matches without scoring, junior midfielder Kendra Pemberton got on the board big time against Utah Valley on Sept. 2. She had an assist on the Aggies first goal against the Wolverines and added the golden goal to push Utah State past Utah Valley, 2-1, in overtime.
OVERTIME IS THE TIME TO SHINE - Utah State is now 2-0-2 in extra time this season. In the first match of the season, the Aggies captured a, 1-0, overtime over in-state rival Utah at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Aug. 17. On Aug. 24, USU went to double overtime and tied Creighton 0-0. The Aggies won their second overtime win on Sept. 2 at Utah Valley, 2-1. The Aggies' fourth overtime match of the season was a 0-0 double overtime tie against Portland State on Sept. 9. Last year, USU had only four overtime matches the whole season, while the 2010 squad saw extra time six times. The 2006 team takes the record with seven overtime matches with a 3-1-3 record in those matches.
LAST HOME LOSS - The Aggies had their 14-game home unbeaten streak come to an end with a 1-0 loss to Northern Colorado on Aug. 31. USU's last loss at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field was on Sept. 25, 2010 against BYU. In that match, the Aggies fell to the Cougars, 3-0. Last season, USU was 9-0-1 at the friendly confines of Bell Field.
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 eight matches. Mulford earned the shutout win against in-state rival Utah, while Woller earned her first collegiate win against UTEP. Mulford shut down both Portland State and Eastern Washington for back-to-back shutouts.
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.
MULFORD HONORED BY WAC -Utah State soccer player Ashlyn Mulford was named the Western Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Week; the league announced on Monday. This was Mulford's second WAC Goalkeeper of the Week honor after earning the award on Aug. 26.
Mulford, a senior goalkeeper from West Valley City, Utah (Cyprus HS), earned Defensive Most Valuable Player honors at the Viking Classic in Portland, Ore., this past week. Mulford led Utah State to a pair of shutouts versus Eastern Washington (W, 1-0) and host Portland State (T, 0-0 OT). Against EWU, she made six saves as the Aggies went on to a 1-0 win. In the tie against Portland State, Mulford was impressive, making match-saving saves in the first half and overtime that kept the Vikings off the scoreboard. For the match, she had nine saves. Mulford played all 200 minutes in the two matches. She had 15 saves, while allowing no goals for a 0.00 goals against average on the week.
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.
AGGIES IN THE WAC STANDINGS - Senior goalkeeper Ashlyn Mulford is first this week in the WAC standings in save percentage (.914) and tied for saves with 32. She is also second in goals against average with a stellar 0.52 GAA just behind Louisiana Tech's Caitlin Updyke who is first with a 0.31 GAA. Junior forward Mari Miyashiro is tied for 10th in points scored with five. 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 95-76-21 (.549) 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.
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