In just her second career start, freshman goalkeeper Jeannie Woller dominated in the net as the Utah State soccer team battled No. 18 Denver to a 0-0 double overtime tie at the CIBER Field in Denver on Sunday.
Woller earned the start in goal after senior goalkeeper Ashlyn Mulford was called for a red card in the Aggies' match against New Mexico State on Friday. She had the big task of taking on one of the most effective offenses in the Western Athletic Conference and rose to the challenge. This was only the second time that DU has been shut out this season and had scored 12 goals in the last four matches.
The Aggies are only the third team to get either a win or a tie against the Pioneers at CIBER Field since it opened in 2009. With the tie, Utah State is now 0-1-2 against ranked teams this season with a tie against No. 25 Washington and a loss to No. 12 BYU.
Utah State is now 5-2-6 this season and 0-0-2 in WAC play. Denver is 9-1-3 overall and 1-0-1 in league action.
The Aggies set the school record with their eighth overtime match in 13 matches this season. USU has had three-straight overtime matches and five of the last six matches have resulted in extra time. Utah State also set the record for ties in a season with its sixth.
"It was just two teams that dug in. We played really well today," USU head coach Heather Cairns said. "Jeannie (Woller) was huge today. Jeannie was called upon after Ashlyn (Mulford) got carded on Friday. After the game on Friday, we all looked at Jeannie and had a ton of confidence in what she was going to be able to do. She has had experience at the college level, and it paid off today, and was just phenomenal. She took a couple of the bar and was great on corner kicks and set pieces. She was a great shot-stopper today. She came up big a handful of times that really saved us."
The high-powered Pioneer attack wasted no time trying to get on the board with Katy Van Lieshout taking the first shot of the match in the fourth minute. DU's leading scorers Kristen Hamilton and Kaitlyn Bast also both had shots for the Pioneers in the first 10 minutes of the match.
Junior forward Mari Miyashiro had the Aggies' first shot that went off the crossbar in the 12th minute. Junior defender Jackie Tillotson followed with a shot that sailed high in the 13th minute.
USU ended the first half with only three shots, none of which were on goal. Denver had five first-half shots in a defensive heavy first 45 minutes of action.
In the second half, junior midfielder Jennifer Flynn continued the aggressiveness for Utah State. The Aggie offense was plagued by three offsides calls in the second half.
In her first start since the win against UTEP on Aug. 19, Woller stood strong against one of the top offenses in the WAC. In the 81st minute, she made a save on a Nikki Pappalardo shot that led to a Nicholette DiGiacomo corner kick. The USU defense then blocked a shot by Kallie Vaughn.
The aggressive Pioneers continued to come on strong with a DiGiacomo shot that hit the cross bar in the 85th minute, but the Aggies remained strong and responded with a Flynn shot that was block in the 87th minute.
Utah State had its first shot on goal in the 99th minute when sophomore midfielder Lexie Morgan fired a shot that was saved by Denver's Lara Campbell.
In a familiar scenario for the Aggies, neither team was able to end the match in 90 minutes, and the match headed to overtime. DU had seven shots in 20 minutes of overtime, while USU had three.Comment on this story
Woller ended the match with six saves, while Campbell had three. DU out-shot USU 24-10, while leading in corner kicks, 10-1.
Following the tough two-match road trip, Utah State returns to the friendly confines of Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field for two matches. USU will host UTSA on Friday, Oct. 5 at 3 p.m. and Texas State on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. as the Aggies begin the third month of the season.
Admission to Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field is free.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.