LOGAN — Utah State soccer rallied from a 1-0 deficit with goals from senior defender Natalie Norris and sophomore midfielder Kylie Dibb in the final 13 minutes of the match for a thrilling, 2-1, win over UTEP Sunday afternoon at Chuck & Gloria Bell Soccer Field. With the win, USU improves to 2-0 on the young season and runs its home unbeaten streak to 14-straight matches.
Sunday was also the Aggies' second one-goal differential victory of the season after Friday's exciting 1-0 OT win over Utah at Rio Tinto Stadium and was USU's fifth-straight one-goal match dating back to year's WAC Championship season. UTEP evens its record at 1-1 on the season after beating Utah Valley on Friday, 2-1, scoring in the waning minutes.
Norris netted her goal in the 77th minute off a deflection after two shots were turned away by UTEP goalkeeper Sarah Dilling, blasting a shot to the upper right corner of the goal for the equalizer. Less than four minutes after coming on as a sub for junior forward Mari Miyashiro, Dibb took a pass from sophomore midfielder Lexie Morgan and cracked a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that kissed off the right post and into the net past a sprawling Dilling. It was Dibb's first career goal and game-winner as well.
"It's crazy because I was injured all last year. It's amazing, the first game I really have been able to play in for about a year now. It's really exciting to be able to give to the team and have it mean something," Dibb said. "I think we did a really good job in the first half. We were physical with them and that really got into their heads. With our people out wide, I think it really spread them out and once we starting using them we got into our own game."
Aggie freshman goalkeeper Jeannie Woller made five saves in her Utah State debut. USU out shot UTEP, 13-10, with Dilling making three saves. The Aggies had 10 shots in the second half alone after just three in the first 45 minutes. USU had a 5-3 advantage in cornerkicks and the fouls were even at 11 apiece.
"I think, to be honest, we just needed to put one in. It didn't matter who put it in, we just needed to get one in to settle us back down because that goal early in the second half kind of threw us all for a loop. Once we hit one in, we were able to collect it and attack them yet again and obviously we got the result in the end. That is kind of what we needed to get off," Norris said. "I think the biggest thing for us was to just attack harder. We struggled in the first half and second half of going to the ball and making runs off our own players. Once we started finally doing that, when we clicked in the second half, we were able to move around them no matter what was going on, on their side of the field."
After a scoreless first half, UTEP got on the board in the 48th minute after Brittany Kindzierski blasted a left-footed shot from 20-yards out to the bottom right corner of the net past a diving Woller for the Miners' 1-0 lead.
"The team has a heart of a champion. Unfortunately, it took us going down a goal to see that and to start playing good soccer," USU head coach Heather Cairns said. "We are struggling a little bit with possession, as you can see. We are struggling with group defending a little bit, as you can see. So those are going to be some focuses for this week. The good news is that stuff is teachable, but what you can't teach is that heart of a champion. Our girls kept fighting until the very end. To come back from a 1-0 deficit and to win the game in regulation and for it to be so late in the game that we get the game winner, I am really proud of them."
USU had several scoring chances in the first half, with the best opportunity coming in the 24th minute after a header from Norris off a cornerkick that was headed toward the net but deflected off Morgan and over the crossbar.
USU hits the road officially for the first time, heading to Omaha, Neb. for the weekend to face Creighton on Friday, Aug. 24 and Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday, Aug. 26. Head coach Heather Cairns will return to her old stomping grounds as she was an assistant coach for the Bluejays of Creighton from 1999-2002.
"I am really proud of them, but at the same we have to keep striving to get better. I think after this weekend, neither of these games were our best soccer. I think we are optimistic in looking forward to that, but we have got to remember it is still early in the season. We haven't even been together three weeks," Cairns said. "I think you can tell the fatigue on both teams was setting in today. I credit our team's depth. We used a lot of subs; we rotated a lot of subs in and out to try and keep us as fresh as possible.. It's early in the season, and we are going to have that fatigue until we get used to playing 90 [minutes]."
OKLAHOMA STATE 1, WEBER STATE 0: At Stillwater, Okla. — The Wildcats took the field against one of the top-rated teams in the nation on Sunday morning, and went toe-to-toe with their highly-regarded opponent.
Only an unlucky redirection of a 20-yard free kick proved to be the difference between the Weber State University women's soccer team and No. 5 ranked Oklahoma State, with the Cowgirls claiming the 1-0 result at Cowgirl Stadium.
"After the first 15 minutes of the Tulsa game (on Friday), we played very well," Weber State coach Tom Crompton said. "Today's game against Oklahoma State was a good soccer game, and it's disappointed that we didn't do more to come out on top in the end.
"The girls are not happy we didn't win the game, but they have their feet under them now and are moving forward as expected."?
The lone goal of the match came in the 64th minute after a Wildcat foul just outside the box on the left angle, with OSU's George Christie scoring on a redirected header deep in the box after Taylor Mathews' free kick.
Weber State immediately went hunting for the equalizer, freshman midfielder Chansi Crompton forcing Oklahoma State goalkeeper Adrianna Franch to make a save less than a minute later. The Wildcats had a corner kick, along with another pair of shots, and plenty of quality passing and combination work in the attacking third over the next 15 minutes.
The Cowgirls opened the match with the better of possession and play early, but the advantage didn't last long as the Wildcats gradually brought themselves into the mix of things. Senior forward Ari Aki had Weber State's first shot of the match in the 21st minute, with the Wildcats attack opening up over the next 20 minutes as WSU recorded four shots, all of which came inside the OSU box.
Weber State's defense shined for much the match, slowing down Oklahoma State's attack. The Cowgirls managed to get off 17 shots, but only a couple forced Wildcat goalkeeper Ryann Waldman to make anything more than a routine save.
Waldman's best save came in the dying seconds of the first half after a OSU corner kick was redirected, with the junior making a diving stop on the goal line to reserve the 0-0 scoreline at halftime.
Defenders Brecken Holbrook and Abbey Kennedy each went the full 90, coming up with some quality plays to thwart the Oklahoma State offense.
Freshman defender Shaylee Petersen, who came on as an injury substitution in the 19th minute and finished the match, also had some bright moments, both defensively and in creating linking plays with the midfield.
"We will take the extra rest this week and get some players healthy and back on the field,"? Crompton said. "That will be an important part of our preparation for this weekend's game against Wyoming."? Weber State will make its 2012 home debut on Sunday, Aug. 26, against the University of Wyoming. Kickoff is at Noon at Wildcat Soccer Field, and admission is free.
UC RIVERSIDE 2, SOUTHERN UTAH 1: At Cedar City, The Southern Utah Soccer team suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to UC Riverside in its season opener on Sunday.
The Thunderbirds recorded the game's opening goal on a shot by freshman Madison Wood in the 31st minute, but then gave up an equalizer just a few minutes later. The match would remain deadlocked until a rebound goal off a penalty try in the final overtime period gave the visiting Highlanders the win.