Utah State begins the 2012 season against in-state rival Utah on Friday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, home of Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake. This is the fourth-straight season the Aggies have played a match at Rio Tinto.

In 2009, the Aggies defeated Utah 2-1 in overtime with a Shantel Flanary golden goal. In 2010 and 2011, USU earned a pair of one-goal wins against Weber State with a 2-1 win in 2010 and a 1-0 victory last season.

Utah holds an 11-3 all-time lead against Utah State. The Aggies have won two of the last three meetings, including a 1-0 win last season in Logan. Junior forward Mari Miyashiro scored the only goal of the match to give USU the win. Utah State also captured a dramatic 2-1 overtime win against Utah at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2009.

Utah brings back 17 returning letterwinners and redshirts from last year’s team, including eight starters. The Utes lost four key players to graduation, all of whom were staples of the Ute starting lineup throughout their careers. Center backs Lauren Dudley and Lauren Porter combined to start 164 of 166 games through four years on the back line. Utah was picked to finish tied for eighth in the Pac-12 conference. Last season, the Utes were 10-9-1 over all and 6-5-0 in conference action.

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Despite losing all-time points scorer and two-time WAC Offensive Player of the Year, Shantel Flanary, USU still has firepower. The Aggies return 20 of the 30 goals they scored last season. Kendra Pemberton is the top returning player with seven goals and nine assists last season for 23 points. Junior midfielder Jennifer Flynn scored five goals with three assists for 13 points, while senior defender Natalie Norris scored four goals for eight points last season.

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.

The Aggies home opener will be on Sunday, Aug. 19 against UTEP at Noon.

Fans can follow USU soccer on Twitter.

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.