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Press releaseBOISE, IDAHO -- Battling both the conditions and third-seeded Boise State, the second-seeded Utah State soccer team fell to the Broncos, 1-0, in the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament Friday. The Aggies were the second higher seed to fall as top-seeded San Jose State lost to fourth-seeded, 2-1, in overtime.
With the loss, Utah State ends the season 10-9-2 which is its fourth-straight 10-win season. Boise State improves to 12-6-4.
"It wasn't our finest day " USU head coach Heather Cairns said. "Boise State played a really good match. They possesed with a purpose and played a solid all-around match. We struggled to defend and to attack. We had no shots on goal or corner kicks until the second half. it wasn't one of our better matches."
After an afternoon of clouds and rain, the sun finally poked through as the match got under way. Boise State came out strong in the first half two shots in the first 10 minutes. The first half would end with the shots tied at six. Sophomore midfielder Allie Maduell led the Aggies with four shots in the first half, while senior defender Sydne Garner was the only Aggie with a shot on goal.
The Broncos challenged in the second half with four corner kicks and a direct kick within minutes of each other, but were not able to find the back of the net. Maureen Fitzgerald took a driect kick that USU Molli Merrill punched away early in the second half.
Boise State finally broke through at 57:27 mark of the second half with a goal by Erica Parks off the assist from Maureen Fitzgerald. It was her team-leading eighth goal of the season. Despite a great effort from Merill the Broncos took the 1-0 advantage.
The Aggies had several chances in the second half led by Lauren Hansen's two second-half shots.
The tough Aggies had eight players play the full 90 minutes, including sophomore forward Shantel Flanary and defenders Sydne Garner, Lindsey Smart and Summer Tillotson.
This is the second-straight season that the Aggies and the Broncos have met in the semifinals. Last season, Utah State defeated Boise State, 1-0, on a goal by forward Lauren Hansen. This season, it was the Broncos with the 1-0 advantage.
"This is my seventh season, and when I started, we weren't qualifying for conference tournaments. We are at the point where we are thinking we can win; it is about execution now. The mentality of the program has changed. I look forward to watching us grow and for us to get the results."
The Aggies will say goodbye to three seniors who helped but Utah State soccer on the map in defenders Sydne Garner, Lindsey Smart and Erin Salmon. Smart will end her career as the all-time USU leader in matches started (84) and assists (15).
(Courtesy Utah State University)