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Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Moscow, Idaho)
Chelsea Small slides in for a shot early in the first half.
Soccer earns road draw
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 10/14/2011
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LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Chelsea Small scored a beauty of a free kick late in the second half, but the University of Idaho women’s soccer team surrendered and equalizer in the final minutes and settled for a draw on Saturday at New Mexico State.

“I feel it was a game we had enough chances to finish for the win,” Idaho head coach Pete Showler said. “I’m disappointed overall with the result, but we didn’t lose. We’ve got another important one Sunday and we need a win.”

Small, a junior forward, took a free kick from the edge of the 18-yard box and put up an unstoppable looping shot to the upper right corner to give the Vandals a 1-0 lead at 80:42.

“What a phenomenal goal by Chelsea – a great strike,” Showler said of the score.

The Idaho defense buckled down and withstood an aggressive finish by the Aggies, saw an unlucky bounce lead to a goal at 85:09. NMSU’s Layla Todd sent in a crossing pass and Idaho junior keeper Caroline Towles slid in front to scoop it up, but collided with two other players and the ball bounced free in front of the open net for an Aggie goal by Yolanda McMillion.

The teams battled for two 10-minute overtime periods and saw a couple chances each way, but neither could finish it. With the tie, Idaho moves to 5-8-3 overall and 1-2-1 in the Western Athletic Conference, while NMSU is now 8-6-2 overall and also 1-2-1 in the conference.

The final stats were exactly as the final score suggests. NMSU outshot Idaho by a 17-14 overall margin, but shots on goal were tied at eight apiece. Each goalkeeper made seven saves and the fouls were eight for Idaho and seven for the Aggies. The only real difference came on corners, where New Mexico State held an 8-1 edge.

An issue that has come up in a handful of recent games for Idaho is that the team does everything it needs to do on offense – except complete the final step of putting the ball in the net. That, Showler said, is the key to the team’s remaining four WAC matches.

“The girls were ready and well-prepared, and on a tight pitch like that, we created opportunities,” Showler said. “In that first half, we should have gotten something, and going into the half nil-nil wasn’t really what we deserved, but we’ve just got to finish those chances.”

Small led all players with five shots, three on goal, while sophomore forward Bailey Hewitt had three attempts with two on goal and junior midfielder Jill Flockhart had a pair of shots.

The tie gives Idaho and NMSU one point each in the WAC team standings. The teams entered the weekend in a four-way tie for fifth place in the conference standings at three points.

After a long travel day Saturday, Idaho will face a fresh Louisiana Tech team that had a day off on Friday. The Lady Techsters are 8-4-4 overall and 1-2-0 in WAC play. LTU is unbeaten at home this year with a 4-0-1 record.

Sunday’s match kicks off at 11 a.m. (PDT). Live game stats and live video (fee-based) is available at www.LaTechSports.com.

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