Sept. 17, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - KICKING OFF - In a battle of two regionally-ranked teams, Utah State soccer will take on No. 14 BYU this week at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field. This is the second-straight week that a ranked team has come to Logan after the Aggies tied No. 23 Washington, 1-1, in overtime last week. Utah State is 5-1-3 this season, while BYU is 8-1-0. The Aggies are ranked ninth in the West Region, while BYU is first. USU is one of three WAC schools ranked in the West Region along with Denver (seventh) and Seattle (10th).
SERIES HISTORY vs. BYU - BYU holds a 9-0-0 record against Utah State with the first meeting taking place in 1996. Last season was one of the closest matches between USU and BYU with the Cougars earning a hard-fought 1-0 win in Provo.
The Cougars high-powered offense defeated No. 23 Washington, 3-1, on Sept. 15. BYU has won six-straight matches all at home, including then-No. 6 Penn State, 3-1. BYU has scored 23 goals this season.
BYU improved to 8-1-0 on the year, after handing Washington its first loss of the season. The Cougars only loss of the season came on the road against Utah one of USU's five wins this season. BYU is 3-0 this season against ranked teams. BYU has three players in double figures in scoring, Michele Murphy, Jaiden Thornock and Carlee Payne Holmoe.
SERIES HISTORY vs. WYOMING - Wyoming holds a 2-3-1 series record against Utah State. The last time the two teams met was in 2009 when the teams battled to a, 1-1, double overtime tie in Logan in 2009. In 2008, Utah State earned a, 2-1, win in Laramie. The first meeting between the Cowgirls and the Aggies was in the first season of USU soccer in 1996 when Wyoming won, 2-0, in Laramie.
This season, Wyoming is 7-3-0 with wins over Eastern Washington, Northern Colorado and Utah Valley. The Aggies are 2-1-0 against those teams with wins over the Eagles and the Wolverines and a loss to the Bears. Just like BYU, the Cowgirls have three players in double digits in points scored, led by 13 points from Sara Paul.
AGAINST THE NATION'S BEST - Senior goalkeeper Ashlyn Mulford has made a name for herself in the current NCAA statistics. She is 13th in the nation in save percentage (.897). She is also 25th in the country in goals against average with a GAA of 0.57. As a team, USU is 27th in save percentage (.875) and 30th in GAA (0.61).
LAST TIME OUT - Utah State soccer battled its way into the history books, earning its first ever tie against a ranked opponent with a 1-1 double overtime draw against No. 23 Washington Thursday at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field.
The Aggies are now 5-1-3 this season, earning a tie for the second-straight match after tying Portland State 0-0 last week. Washington is now 7-0-1 as the Aggies are one of only three teams to have scored a goal against the Huskies and tough goalkeeper Kari Davidson. High-scoring Washington has only been held to one goal by one other team this season, Gonzaga, on Sept. 7.
Utah State is now 2-0-3 in overtime matches this season, passing last season's total number of extra time matches. The USU record for overtime matches in a season is seven by the 2006 squad. That season, the Aggies were 3-1-3 in overtime matches.
Washington had eight shots in the first 45 minutes while Utah State fired off seven. UW's Davidson made three saves and USU's Mulford notched two. USU also had a 5-0 corner kicks edge in the first stanza.
In the 59th minute, junior forward Mari Miyashiro got clear and dribbled down the left side into the 18-yard box and got a shot off that Davidson blocked, but junior midfielder Jennifer Flynn was there for the clean-up to bury the ball in the back of the net from close range for the Aggies' 1-0 advantage in the 59th minute.
LOGGING IN THE MINUTES - There are two Aggies who have played every minute of the 2012 season, defenders Natalie Norris and Taryn Rose. They are two if five Utah State players to have played and started all nine matches along with midfielder Kendra Pemberton, defender Jessica Hoskin and forward Mari Miyashiro. Norris and Rose have played 969 minutes this season, while roaming the Aggie backfield. Hoskin has seen time in 876 minutes this season. Eleven different players have played in all nine matches for Utah State this season.
SPREADING THE WEALTH - With five wins this season, the Aggies have spread the game-winning goals around. Five different players have scored a game-winning goals, including Kendra Pemberton, Jennifer Flynn, Jade Tarver, Mari Miyashiro and Kylie Dibb.
ON THE PITCH - After tying Pac-12 powerhouse and No. 23 Washington on Sept. 13, Utah State will now take on in-state rival No. 14 BYU on Sept. 20 in Logan. The Aggies will end the home stand against future Mountain West Conference foe Wyoming on Sept. 23. After the match against the Cowgirls, the Aggies will open their final season in the Western Athletic Conference against New Mexico State in Las Cruces, N.M., on Friday, Sept. 28 at 4 p.m.
SOLID IN THE NET - Senior goalkeeper Ashlyn Mulford has been solid in the goal this season for the Aggies. Prior to this season, the senior had played in only seven matches for just over 367 minutes, allowing five goals. So far this season, Mulford has played in eight matches for 721 minutes, allowing only four goals. Two of the four goals allowed this season were scored on penalty kicks. Mulford has a stellar 0.50 goals against average, making 35 saves.
SECOND-HALF WONDERS - In six of Utah State's nine 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.
NERVES OF STEEL - Utah State is now 2-0-3 in extra time this season, showing tough nerves. 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 with their fifth being a 1-1 tie against No. 25 Washington. 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 nine 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 63-26-15 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-straight WAC Goalkeeper of the Week honor and third this season.
Mulford, a senior goalkeeper from West Valley City, Utah (Cyprus HS), allowed only a penalty kick in the Aggies 1-1 tie against No. 23 Washington. Mulford made three saves as she helped the USU defense keep the highly-powered Husky offense at bay until the penalty kick in the 85th minute. Mulford kept a clean sheet in overtime as the Aggies earned their first tie against a nationally-ranked opponent in school history.
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 second this week in the WAC standings in save percentage (.897) and third in saves with 35. She is also second in goals against average with a stellar 0.57 GAA just behind Louisiana Tech's Caitlin Updyke who is first with a 0.40 GAA. Junior midfielder Kendra Pemberton is second in shots with 44.
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 95-76-22 (.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
Preseason Players of the Year Offensive: Chelsea Small, Jr., F, Idaho Defensive: Jessica Ingram, Sr., D, San Jose State
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