Junior midfielder Kendra Pemberton knocked in the lone goal to give the Utah State soccer team a 1-0 win over Southern Utah in the Aggies’ only exhibition of the season at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field on Saturday.
This is the second-straight season a Pemberton goal has given the Aggies an edge over the Thunderbirds in an exhibition. Last year, she netted USU’s lone goal in a 1-0 Aggie victory on Aug. 13 in Cedar City.
“I think it was a perfect exhibition for us," USU head coach Heather Cairns said. "Obviously, we’re replacing four seniors who played a lot of minutes for us, we have had some injuries that we’re taking care of, and we’ve got some people coming back from injuries that are new from last year. Also adding to the mix are some new freshmen and some new transfers, so our team is a lot different, but I thought they responded very well today in this exhibition."
Despite scoring only one goal, the Aggies had the offensive advantage throughout most of the match, out-shooting the Thunderbirds, 23-3. SUU goalkeeper Charly Booth made eight saves in the match. Utah State split time between two goalkeepers with senior Ashlyn Mulford and freshman Jeannie Woller both getting 45 minutes of shutout action.
Several newcomers had great showings for the Aggies, including freshman forward Danielle Gatambide, who had two shots on goal and junior transfer midfielder Robin Hansen, who had several good offensive chances.
Despite USU’s challenges, the first half ended 0-0 with USU holding a commanding 15-2 shot advantage. The Aggies continued to apply the pressure in the second half before Pemberton got the ball in the back of the net. “The first half you could tell was a little choppy, and we couldn’t quite find our rhythm," Cairns said. "But I thought in the second half we did a much better job. To score a goal is fantastic, and we had a lot of close calls with some others. That will come as the season goes, but the great news about that is that we did have a lot of opportunities to finish. I thought we tightened things up defensively in the second half and were a lot sharper defensively in the second half after they got in on us a couple times in the first half."
Over 500 fans came to Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field for the first game with USU’s new permanent bleachers on the west side of the stadium.
USU opens the 2012 campaign against in-state rival Utah at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Friday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. The Aggies home opener will be on Sunday, Aug. 19 against UTEP at Noon. Tickets for the match at Rio Tinto are $5 and available for the Rio Tinto Stadium Box Office (hours 10 a.m.-6 p.m., at 801-727-2700 or at RioTintoStadium.com). Kids 17 & under can enter free with a soccer jersey.
For the first time, the Aggies will be streaming all home soccer matches through www.UtahStateAggies.com. There is a Utah State All-Access Monthly Subscription for $9.95 and a Utah State All-Access Yearly Subscription for $79.95.
GOALS BY PERIOD 1st 2nd Total
Southern Utah 0 0 0
Utah State 0 1 1
SHOTS BY PERIOD 1st 2nd Total
Southern Utah 2 1 3
Utah State 15 18 23
SAVES BY PERIOD 1st 2nd Total
Southern Utah 7 1 8
Utah State 0 0 0
CORNERS BY PERIOD 1st 2nd Total
Southern Utah 0 0 0
Utah State 6 2 8
FOULS BY PERIOD 1st 2nd Total
Southern Utah 4 3 7
Utah State 1 3 4
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.