Utah State soccer officially opens the 2014 season against Arkansas on Friday, Aug. 22, at Razorback Field in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m. MT. The match will be streamed on the SEC Network, which can be viewed through the WatchESPN app, as well as on ESPN3.com. This is the season opener for the Aggies and Razorbacks.
Friday marks the second-straight season USU and Arkansas have tangled on the pitch. Last season, the Razorbacks edged the Aggies, 3-2, in overtime at Chuck and Gloria Field in Logan. Arkansas’ Rachel Riggs scored the final two goals of the match to give the Razorbacks the win. Last season was the first meeting between Utah State and Arkansas. The Aggies are 0-3-0 against the Southeastern Conference with losses to Kentucky and Auburn. Last season, Arkansas was 15-8-1 overall and 5-6 in the Southeastern Conference. Ashleigh Ellenwood led the team in scoring with 14 goals and seven assists for 35 points. Arkansas was tabbed eighth in the SEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Utah State is coming off a 1-1 draw at Weber State on Saturday in an exhibition match, as sophomore midfielder Jayne Robison knocked in the game-tying goal in the 84th minute.
The Aggies bring back 17 letterwinners and seven starters from last season’s squad that advanced to the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament with a 10-7-5 overall record and a 5-3-2 mark in its inaugural season in the league. Junior defender Lexie Henrie, who was named to the Mountain West all-Tournament squad, also returns for USU. The Aggies were tabbed fifth in the Mountain West Conference Preseason Poll.
Senior defender Taryn Rose was named College Sports Madness Mountain West Soccer Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. She was one of three Aggies to be honored, along with senior defender Brooke Larsen-Leavitt and Robison.
Rose and Larsen-Leavitt, who each earned second-team all-Mountain West honors last season, were named to the first-team preseason all-conference squad. Robison was named to the second team.
Robison is the leading offensive returner with two goals and a team-leading five assists. Rose and Larsen-Leavitt were the leaders of the Utah State defense that allowed only 21 goals in 22 matches. Rose was also fifth on the team in scoring with three goals for six points.
USU is also kicking off its 12th season under head coach 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 10 seasons at the helm of the Aggies, Cairns has compiled a 113-85-30 (.561) record, passing former head coach Stacy Enos (1996-2000) who went 26-59 (.306) in five seasons with the Aggies.
Following Friday's match at Arkansas, USU remains on the road, heading to Springfield, Missouri, to take on Missouri State on Sunday, Aug. 24. Kickoff for Sunday's match has been moved to 10 a.m. MT, due to extreme heat in the forecast for Springfield.
The Aggies' home opener is Sunday, Aug. 31 at 1 p.m., at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field. Once again, admission to all Utah State soccer matches at Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field is free.