Utah State soccer opened its final season in the Western Athletic Conference with a 0-0 overtime tie against New Mexico State Friday afternoon in Las Cruces.
This was the Aggies' first-ever tie in a WAC opener, as they are now 5-2-1 to start league play in eight seasons in the WAC. Utah State also tied the school record for overtime matches in a season with seven draws in 12 matches so far this season. The 2006 Aggies also had seven matches that saw extra time. The navy Aggies are now 5-2-5 this season, going 0-4-1 in their last five matches. The crimson Aggies are 1-7-3, going 0-5-2 in their last seven matches. Both Aggie teams are 0-0-1 in league play.
Utah State is now 3-0-1 all-time against New Mexico State, and the USU defense maintained its all-time shutout over NMSU, as the northern Aggies have out-scored their maroon counterparts, 8-0, in the four total meetings.
"It was a back-and-forth match; it was what conference matches will be," USU head coach Heather Cairns said. "Everybody is fighting for valuable points; everybody is hungry and everybody wants to put points on the board. Today was just a match-up of two teams that really left everything out there."
The Aggies wasted no time getting off a shot when sophomore midfielder Lexie Morgan fired off a shot that was saved by New Mexico State goalkeeper Mikaela Bitner in the sixth minute. Junior midfielder Jennifer Flynn added a shot that went high in the 21st minute.
In the first half, the visiting Aggies had four shots, three of them being on goal, while earning a pair of cornerkicks. The home Aggies had two shots, one on goal and one cornerkick in the first stanza of play, leaving the match scoreless at intermission.
To start the second half, USU had two shots on goal in the first 12 minutes of the second period. Sophomore forward Jade Tarver and junior defender Jessica Hoskin had shots saved by Bitner.
In a physical match that saw four yellow cards and two red cards, New Mexico State had the slight edge in fouls, 8-7.
Junior midfielder Kendra Pemberton had a couple shots late in that match that Bitner was able to reign in.
Senior goalkeeper Ashlyn Mulford recorded five saves but missed the final 43 seconds of the match after getting a red card after a defensive play on NMSU after the home team counter-attacked after a USU cornerkick. Freshman Jeannie Woller came in for the final 43 seconds, earning one save. Mulford did earn her fourth shutout of the season.
Flynn finished the match with four shots, three of them on goal, while Morgan, Pemberton and junior forward Mari Miyashiro had two shots apiece.
Utah State continues WAC play on the road against league newcomer, No. 18 Denver on Sunday, Sept. 30, at 12 p.m. The Aggies and the Pioneers are 1-1 against each other with the last meeting taking place in 1998 when Denver won, 2-1. This is the third ranked team that USU has faced this season with a loss to No. 12 BYU and a tie against No. 23 Washington.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.
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