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 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 1-0 OT win over Utah at Rio Tinto Stadium. UTEP evens its record at 1-1 on the season after beating Utah Valley on Friday. The Aggies also have won the last two meetings with the Miners, both by 2-1 scores and rallying from 1-0 deficits to even the series at 2-2.
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, while 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]."
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.