Nov. 8, 2011
LOGAN, Utah - KICKING OFF - For its first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Utah State women's soccer team will make the long trek to Auburn, Ala. to take the third-seeded Auburn Tigers on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. (MT) at the Auburn Soccer Complex.
Utah State earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament by defeating Fresno State in the finals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, 1-0 on Sunday, Nov. 6.
TOURNAMENT HISTORY - This is the first NCAA appearance for Utah State after winning the WAC Tournament for the first time on Nov. 6. With two wins in the WAC Tournament, Utah State doubled it tournament win total. The Aggies are now 4-6 in the WAC Tournament in five tournaments.
THE OPPONENT - Auburn earned its first-ever Southeastern Conference Tournament title with a 3-2 win over No. 23 Florida on Nov. 6 at the Orange Beach Athletic Complex in Alabama. With the win, Auburn becomes the lowest seed to ever win the title (seventh) and the first program from the SEC's Western Division to win the tournament championship.
The Tigers are 14-6-2 this season and have won three-straight matches. SEC Tournament MVP Katy Frierson leads the team with eight goals and 13 assists for 29 points this season. Auburn has five players in double-digits in scoring. Three different players have seen time in goal for the Tigers this season. Amy Howard has seen the bulk of the minutes, playing in 14 of AU's 22 matches this season. She has allowed 19 goals in 14 matches for a 1.38 goals against average.
This is the first meeting between the Aggies and the Tigers and the first time that Utah State has ever faced a team from the SEC. The Aggies are the only team from the Beehive State to earn a berth into the NCAA Tournament as the WAC's automatic bid.
Utah State and Auburn met in football earlier this season in Auburn. The Tigers defeated the Aggies 42-38 in that meeting.
Sport Series History Last Meeting Last USU Win Football 0-1 2011 Never M. Basketball 0-0 Never Never W. Basketball 0-0 Never Never Gymnastics 2-3 2006 1999 Softball 0-0 Never Never W. Soccer 0-0 Never Never M. Tennis 0-0 Never Never W. Tennis 0-0 Never Never Volleyball 1-0 1997 1997MERRILL RANKED AMONG THE BEST - In the latest NCAA Rankings senior goalkeeper Molli Merrill has moved up to 11th in the nation in goals against average with a 0.52 GAA. Oklahoma State's Adrianna Franch leads the nation with a 0.25 GAA. Merrill is 21st in the country with a .864 save percentage. As a team, the Aggies 0.60 GAA is 15th in the country.
FLANARY BREAKS CAREER POINT AND ASSIST RECORDS - With two assists against Idaho and Fresno State in the WAC Tournament, senior Shantel Flanary passed Aggie-great Lindsey Smart (2006-09) with 17 career assists. In the Aggies historic weekend in Fresno, Flanary also scored 85 career point which puts her just past Lauren Hansen (2007-10) in career points. Hansen (2007-10) set the record of 84 last season.
AGGIES CAPTURE FIRST WAC TOURNAMENT TITLE - Freshman forward Jade Tarver's goal in the 83rd minute propelled the Utah State women's soccer team to not only its first Western Athletic Conference Tournament title, but also its first NCAA Tournament berth, as the top-seeded Aggies defeated second-seeded Fresno State, 1-0, on Sunday.
Utah State is in the midst of an eight-match unbeaten streak with seven wins and a tie during that span. The only tie came against Fresno State in Logan on Oct. 30 when the Aggies and the Bulldogs battled to 0-0 tie in double overtime. With the win, the Aggies improve to 3-6-3 against Fresno State and 1-3 against the Bulldogs in the WAC Tournament. USU is now 4-6 in WAC Tournament matches, doubling its win total in the tournament.
The Aggies also avenged the loss to the Bulldogs in the 2008 WAC Tournament finals when Fresno State defeated USU, 2-1 in double overtime in Reno, Nev. With the win, Utah State improves to 15-4-2 overall this season which is the most wins in Aggie history. USU captured both the WAC regular-season and tournament title and were the first team to do so since Hawai`i in 2007. Fresno State ends its season with an 11-5-5 record.
FOUR MAKE ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM - By not allowing a goal in two matches, senior goalkeeper Molli Merrill was named MVP of the 2011 WAC Tournament. Merrill is the first goalkeeper to earn MVP honors since Nevada's Caitlin Homes in 2006. Sophomore midfielder Kendra Pemberton and freshman forward Jade Tarver, who provided the two goals in the tournament for USU, also earned all-tournament honors. Junior defender Natalie Norris also earned all-tournament honors for her efforts.
All Tournament Team Amber Pimley Idaho, Jr., MF Christine Leathem, Idaho, Jr., D Daisy Hernandez, New Mexico State, So., MF Yolanda McMillion, New Mexico State, Jr., F Molly Nizzoli, Fresno State, Sr., MF Kendall Van Dine, Fresno State, Sr., D Laura Dodd, Fresno State, Sr., MF Kendra Pemberton, Utah State, So., MF Natalie Norris, Utah State, Sr., D Jade Tarver, Utah State, Fr., FMARVELOUS MERRILL - Senior goalkeeper Molli Merrill has been splendid this season. With two shutouts in the WAC Tournament she lowered her goals against average this season to 0.52. Her GAA in league matches was a stellar 0.28 which is first in the conference. She allowed only two goals in WAC matches. She has not allowed a goal since the Aggies fell 2-1 at Hawai`i on Sept. 30. For the season, Merrill and the USU defense have 11 shutouts which broke the record of 10 set by the 2003 squad led by goalkeeper Megan Mills.
Tournament MVP: Molli Merrill, Utah State, Sr., GK
USU In the WAC Tournament 2005: L, Fresno State (First Round), 1-2 2006: L, Nevada (First Round) 2007: W, San Jose State (First Round), 4-0; L, Hawai`i (2OT-Semifinals), 0-1 2008: W, Boise State (Semifinals), 1-0; L, Fresno State (2OT- Finals), 1-2 2009: L, Boise State (Semifinals), 0-1 2010: L, Fresno State (Semifinals), 0-1 2011: W, Idaho (Semifinals), 1-0; W, Fresno State (Finals), 1-0
MORE ON MERRILL - Molli Merrill is also looking to write her name in the WAC record books. Her current career GAA of 0.88 is the second lowest in the WAC for career GAA. She is second behind Rice's Lauren Shockley (2001-04) who had a career GAA of 0.76. Her season GAA of 0. 52 is also second behind Fresno State's Angie Larsen who had a 0.46 GAA in 2006. Merrill has been setting WAC records as well, passing Ali Griffin for minutes played with 5,616.
AMONG THE BEST - Five Aggie soccer players were named among the top 20 in the WAC by topdrawersoccer.com. Senior forward Shantel Flanary was ranked second in the league behind Idaho's Chelsea Small. Sophomore midfielder Kendra Pemberton was ranked seventh, while senior defender Summer Tillotson earned a No. 12 ranking. Senior goalkeeper Molli Merril earned the No. 17 ranking. Utah State was tied with Fresno State with four players ranked in the top 20 in the conference.
HOME SWEET HOME - With the win against San Jose State Oct. 28 and a tie against Fresno State on Oct. 30 on Oct. 9, Utah State completed a perfect season at home. USU ended the season 8-0-1 at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field this season. The seven wins was the record by both the 2010 team that went 7-1-2 at home and the 2008 squad that was 7-2-1 at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field. The Aggies have now won at least 10 matches six of the last nine seasons. The record for wins in a season is 13 in 2008 which USU tied with the win against the Spartans.
AGGIES REPEAT AS WAC CHAMPIONS - With the tie against Fresno State on Oct. 30, Utah State ends the regular season with a 13-4-2 record and a 5-1-1 conference mark. The Aggies have won at least five WAC matches every year since the 2005 season. Last season, the Aggies were 5-2-1 in league play. The Aggies captured their second-straight WAC regular-season title and third in the last four years. In 2010, USU shared the title with San Jose State. The Aggies also won the 2008 title after going a perfect 7-0-0 in WAC matches.
THANK YOU SENIORS - This year's five seniors: Shantel Flanary, Molli Merrill, Marissa Sanchez, Chandra Salmon-Christensen and Summer Tillotson have won over 40 matches in their four years at Utah State. The Aggies have won at least nine matches a season during that four-year span, including winning a team-record 13 matches in 2008 and 2010. Utah State became the first team since Southern Methodist in 2001 to win all its conference matches. SMU was 8-0-0 that season to capture the WAC title. USU is the fourth team to win all of its WAC matches, including SMU in 1997 (6-0-0), San Diego State in 1998 (6-0-0), and SMU again in 2001 (8-0-0). In 2006, both Fresno State (6-0-1) and Utah State (5-0-2) finished conference play without losses but did not win all of there matches. This senior class now is the first in USU history to reach the NCAA Tournament.
PEMBERTON MAKING MARK - Sophomore midfielder is making her mark in the Aggie record books this season. With an assist of a Natalie Norris goal, Pemberton continues to lead the team with nine assists this season. She now has 14 career assists and is second in career assists. She is one assist behind Lindsey Smart's (2006-09) and current Aggie Shantel Flanary who both have 15. Pemberton also set the record for single-season assists with her nine so far this season.
AGGIES IN THE WAC RANKINGS - Goalkeeper Molli Merrill has slowly but surely risen to the top of the WAC rankings. In overall matches, the senior is first in the league in goals against average (0.52) and save percentage (.864). In conference only matches, she is also first in GAA (0.28). Overall, Shantel Flanary is first in the WAC in points (26) ahead of Fresno State's Callie Hancock's 25 points. Her four game-winning goals this season are tied for first in the league with Kendra Pemberton. In WAC only matches, Kendra Pemberton is first in points scored (12) and tied for first in goals (4). She is also first in league matches in assists with four.
WAC OPENERS - Utah State is now 5-2 in Western Athletic Conference openers after a tough 2-1 double overtime loss to Hawai`i on Sept. 30. The Aggies' only other loss came in 2009 when USU lost at Nevada, 1-0, to open its fifth season in the WAC. 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 was the first time in seven seasons that Utah State will open WAC play against Hawai`i. Besides 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, 1-2Shantel Flanary, Summer Tillotson and Molli Merrill along with junior Natalie Norris, sophomore Jessica Hoskin and freshman Taryn Rose have all started all 21 matches.
HEADS UP - Aggie defender Natalie Norris has really used her head this season. The junior has three goals this season two of which have been headers. She has two headers off of corner kicks by Kendra Pemberton and Summer Tillotson, respectively. CARDIAC KIDS - Utah State has been keeping its fans on its toes this season. In nine of USU's 13 wins this season, the Aggies have captured one-goal victories. The Aggies won three-straight 1-0 matches, before exploding for six goals against Idaho State on Sept. 11. Senior forward Shantel Flanary has had four of the Aggies' game-winning goals. Sophomores Jennifer Flynn (2), Kendra Pemberton (4), sophomore Mari Miyashiro, freshman Jade Tarver and junior Natalie Norris (3) have the 10 other game-winning goals.
THE 80/70 CLUB - Seniors Chandra Salmon-Christensen, Summer Tillotson and Shantel Flanary have entered a very exclusive club. All three have played in at least 80 matches, while starting at least 70 in their four-year Utah State careers. Salmon-Christensen, Tillotson and Flanary have all played 84 matches so far in their Aggie careers. Flanary and Tillotson have both started 77 matches, while Salmon-Christensen has started 80.
TYING A SCHOOL RECORD - Utah State's eight-straight wins to start the season tied a school record for consecutive wins. In 2008, the Aggies won eight-straight matches en route to the finals of the WAC Tournament.
GAMETRACKER - Fans can follow all the Aggie home games through the USU web site at www.UtahStateAggies.com via GameTracker, a free service, which updates play-by-play and statistics throughout the game.
BIG WIN - Utah State's win against Utah on Sept. 2 was big for several reasons. It was the Aggie first win over the Utes since 1997. Also, it was only the second win against current Pac-12 win as the Aggies other two wins against Utah came when they were in other conferences. Utah State's other win against a Pac-12 team came against Arizona State in 1998.
HEAD COACH Heather Cairns - In her ninth 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 90-74-19 (.543) 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 eight league coaches in conference matches.
AGGIES PICKED TO WIN WAC TITLE - For the third-straight season, the Utah State soccer team was picked first in the Western Athletic Conference preseason poll, selected by the conference's eight coaches and announced by the league office Monday.
The Aggies tied for first with San Jose State, and the two teams shared the 2010 WAC regular season title. This season, the WAC has eight teams with the departure of Boise State. USU and San Jose State tied for first with 42 points with both teams earning three first-place votes.
0- The number of losses USU suffered at home this season. For the first time ever, the Aggies ended the regular season 8-0-1 at home.
1 - The Aggies capture their first WAC Tournament title with a 1-0 win over Fresno State it the finals on Nov. 6.
3A - When Utah State took on Weber State to open the season on Aug. 19, it was the third-straight season that the Aggies played a match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. USU is 3-0 with two wins against in-state rivals Weber State and a win against Utah.
3B - USU captured its third WAC title in the last four years, including winning two-straight titles.
4B - States represented on the Utah State roster including the Beehive State of Utah along with Hawaii, Idaho and Illinois.
6A -Utah State has four 1-0 shutouts this season against Weber State, Utah, Cal State Fullerton, Rice, Idaho and Fresno State.
7 - The number of Aggies named to the all-WAC team with a record five on the first team and two on the second. Led by Flanary, Norris, Merrill, Tillotson and Pemberton.
8B - Kendra Pemberton broke the single-season record for assists in a match with her eighth assist against Idaho on Oct. 21. She now has nine assists this season
15 - The Aggies have reached the 10-win mark for the sixth time in the last nine season as USU has 11 wins in 2011. So far this season, USU is 15-4-2. They were the first WAC team to double-digit wins.
24 - Players from the state of Utah on the roster.
34 - Head coach Heather Cairns' total number of WAC wins. She has a record of 36-9-6 (.765) to lead all current WAC coaches in winning percentage.
70- Saves that senior goalkeeper Molli Merrill has this season.
85 - Number of career points Flanary has in her four seasons at Utah State. She broke Lauren Hansen's school record with an assist in the WAC Title match.
90 - Total career wins that head coach Heather Cairns has in her nine season at Utah State.
1955 - The number of minutes that Natalie Norris has played this season. She is the only Aggie to not come out of a match this season.
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