Coming Up This Week:
Idaho (7-10-3) heads to Fresno, Calif., for the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. The fifth-seeded Vandals will play fourth-seeded San Jose State (6-11-1) on Thursday at 12 p.m. (PDT), in the first quarterfinal. The winner advances to face top-seeded Utah State (13-4-2) on Friday at 12 p.m. On the other side of the bracket, No. 3 Hawai`i faces No. 6 New Mexico State, with the winner moving on to face No. 2 Fresno State.
#4 San Jose State Spartans
San Jose State tied for third in the WAC regular-season standings with a 4-2-1 conference record. The Spartans went 6-11-1 overall in 2011, with an 0-1-0 record in neutral-site matches. SJSU was outscored 23-11 during non-conference play, but posted a 9-7 goal differential in WAC matches. The Spartans average 10.3 shots per game, while 12 different players have combined to score their 20 goals. Junior forward Kelsey Lord leads the the team in goals (6), assists (4), points (16) and shots (38). Senior goalkeeper Meghan Maiwald leads the team with 100 saves and a 1.59 goals-against average in 1642 total minutes this season.
Thursday will be the first neutral-site and first postseason meeting between SJSU and Idaho. The Spartans lead the overall series by a 5-2-1 margin. SJSU won the regular-season meeting by a 2-1 score at San Jose, Calif. The Vandals won last year’s meeting, 2-1, at Guy Wicks Field. Seven of the eight meetings in the series have been decided by a single goal.
#1 Utah State Aggies (Potential Semifinal Opponent)
The regular-season WAC champion Utah State Aggies await Thursday’s winner in the semifinal round after earning the top seed and first-round bye. USU is 13-4-2 overall and posted a 5-1-1 WAC record in 2011. The Aggies enter the week on a six-match unbeaten streak (5-0-1), during which time they’ve outscored their opponents, 13-1. Senior forward Shantel Flanary leads USU with 10 goals and 24 points in 2011, while sophomore midfielder Kendra Pemberton leads the team with nine assists. Senior keeper Molli Merrill’s 0.58 goals-against average is the best in the WAC, as is her .847 save percentage this year.
Utah State holds a 13-1-0 all-time edge in the series against Idaho. The Aggies won the regular-season match this year at Guy Wicks Field by a 3-0 margin. Idaho’s win in the series, a 3-2 victory at Logan, Utah, came exactly 10 years from Thursday’s date, in the season finale on Nov. 4, 2001.
#5 Idaho Vandals
Idaho plays in its second-consecutive WAC Tournament this week. The Vandals earned the fifth seed after posting a 3-3-1 record in conference play and a 7-10-3 overall tally in 2011. Idaho is 3-2-1 in its last six matches and plays its fifth neutral-site game of the year on Thursday. Idaho is averaging 13.4 shots per match, but allowing 16.1 opponent attempts. Seven different Vandals have scored a goal this year, while 10 different players have registered a point.
The Vandals are led in scoring by junior forward Chelsea Small, whose 10 goals and 24 points are tied for second in the WAC this year. Junior forward Jill Flockhart leads the team and is tied for third in the conference with six total assists. Junior goalkeeper Caroline Towles has seen 991 minutes in goal this year and ranks second in the WAC with 5.64 saves per game this year.
The Vandals are making the second postseason appearance in program history. The team lost to eventual champion Fresno State in last year’s quarterfinal round at Ruston, La.
Click on the PDF link above to view full match notes.