Aggie Soccer Opens WAC Play at New Mexico State and Denver
Sept. 24, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - KICKING OFF - Utah State (5-2-4) is looking to get back in the win column after going four-straight matches without a win. The Aggies are 0-1-3 in their last four matches with a loss to No. 12 BYU at home last week, 1-0 and a tie against Wyoming. This week, Utah State begins its eighth and final season in the Western Athletic Conference on the road at New Mexico State on Sept. 28 and at Denver on Sept. 30. This week, Denver moved up to fifth in the West Region rankings, while the Aggies are now 10th.
SERIES HISTORY vs. NEW MEXICO State - Utah State holds a 3-0-0 all-time series lead over New Mexico State. In their three meetings, USU has out-scored NMSU 8-0.
So far this season, the crimson Aggies are 1-7-2 and have lost two-straight matches. Last week, New Mexico State fell to Texas Tech in Lubbock, 5-0. The Aggies are ninth in the WAC in points scored with 12.
Last season, Utah State defeated New Mexico State 2-0 in Logan. Kendra Pemberton and Shantel Flanary provided the offense for the blue Aggies. Current USU undergraduate assistant coach Molli Merrill earned the shutout in the win.
SERIES HISTORY vs. denver - The all-time series history between Utah State and Denver is knotted at 1-1. The first meeting between the Aggies and the Pioneers was in 1997 when USU won, 3-2, in Colorado. In 1998, Denver won the matchup in Logan, 1-0. This is the first meeting with both teams being part of the same conference.
The Pioneers have the second-most wins in the conference behind Louisiana Tech with a solid 8-1-2 record. DU is second in the WAC in points scored with 66. Denver has the top two scorers in the league in Kristen Hamilton (16 points) and Kaitlin Bast (12 points). Last week, Denver defeated No. 13 Portland, 3-1, in Portland.
WAC OPENERS - The match up between the northern and southern Aggies will be USU's eighth and final Western Athletic Conference opener. Utah State is 5-2 in WAC openers. The Aggies' only losses came in 2009 when USU lost at Nevada, 1-0, to open its fifth season in the WAC and in 2011 when the Aggies fell on the road to Hawai`i, 2-1. In 2010, the Aggies captured a 1-0 win against Louisiana Tech in Ruston when then-senior Heather Pond scored her first goal of the season. This is the first time in eight seasons that Utah State will open WAC play against New Mexico State. Besides Hawai`i and Nevada, the Aggies have also taken on Louisiana Tech three times in WAC openers. USU has also faced Idaho twice in conference openers.
AGGIES IN WAC OPENERS 2005 -- Louisiana Tech, W, 2-0 2006 -- at Louisiana Tech, W, 2-1 2007 -- at Idaho W, 4-0 2008 -- Idaho W, 4-0 2009 -- at Nevada L, 0-1 2010 -- Louisiana Tech, W, 1-0 2011 -- at Hawai`i, L, 1-2GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS - After weeks of non-conference action, the Aggies will begin conference play this week. At this point, Louisiana Tech leads the WAC with a 9-1-2 record. Denver is just behind with a 8-1-2 mark, while USU is third with a 5-2-4. The Aggies will play eight conference matches this season. Seattle, Denver, UTSA and Texas State are new to the WAC this season as USU begins its final season in the league. The top six teams will advance to the WAC Tournament Nov. 1-4 in Logan, Utah. This is the first time that Utah State has hosted the soccer tournament, having played host to both the cross country and gymnastics championships.
LAST TIME OUT - Senior defender Natalie Norris drilled a penalty kick in the second half Sunday on her birthday to help lead Utah State soccer to a hard-fought 1-1 double overtime tie against Wyoming at Chuck and Gloria Bell Field.
The 1-1 tie was the Aggies' third of the season and fourth draw overall. Utah State is now 5-2-4 overall, while the Cowgirls had their first tie of the season and are 7-3-1 this season. The Aggies have tied in three of their last four matches with their last win coming on Sept. 7 against Eastern Washington, 1-0.
"I think this one, we aren't happy with it. This is a game where we felt like we left points on the table. It is not a draw that we are particularly happy with. We have to find some accountability in terms of scoring goals. That's really what we are struggling with right now. The rest of the play is great; we are possessing the ball, we are creating some opportunities, we are just not putting them away and that bit us today," USU head coach Heather Cairns.
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 of five Utah State players to have played and started all 11 matches along with midfielder Kendra Pemberton, defender Jessica Hoskin and forward Mari Miyashiro. Norris and Rose have played all 1168 minutes this season, while roaming the Aggie backfield. Hoskin has seen time in 1056 minutes this season. Eleven different players have played in all 11 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 opening conference play on the road against New Mexico State and WAC newcomer Denver this week, USU will return to host two teams from the Long Horn State. On Oct. 5, the Aggies will take on UTSA and will conclude the brief two-match homestand hosting Texas State on Oct. 7. Utah State has played both teams before but only the Bobcats have played at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field.
UNDEFATED ON SUNDAY - Utah State is 3-0-2 when playing on Sunday. The only days of the week that the Aggies have lost a match are on Thursday and Friday. Sunday remains USU's most successful day of the week with no losses in five matches.
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.
NERVES OF STEEL - Utah State is now 2-0-4 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. USU also came from behind and tied Wyoming, 1-1, on Sept. 23. 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.
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 first this week in the WAC standings in save percentage (.882) and third in saves with 45. She is also second in goals against average with a stellar 0.65 GAA just behind Louisiana Tech's Caitlin Updyke who is first with a 0.35 GAA. Junior midfielder Kendra Pemberton is second in shots with 48. 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 95-77-23 (.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.
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