Courtesy: Bruce Mann (Moscow, Idaho)
Amber Pimley scored twice in Idaho's quarterfinal win over SJSU.
Vandals advance
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 11/03/2011
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FRESNO, Calif. – Junior midfielder Amber Pimley scored twice and the University of Idaho women’s soccer team gritted out a 2-1 victory over San Jose State on Thursday at the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

The win is Idaho’s first conference tournament victory in program history, and moves the fifth-seeded Vandals on to Friday’s semifinal match against top-seeded Utah State.

“It was great to get our first WAC Tournament win, and it was a great way to do it,” Idaho head coach Pete Showler said. “I’m proud as punch.”

Idaho’s women showed poise and mental toughness in the early going. After surrendering a score on a quick counter-attack at 20:27, the Vandals put the pressure right back on the Spartans.

Junior midfielder Jill Flockhart took the ball right up the sideline and sent a pass into the box, where fellow junior mid Megan Lopez fired a shot that bounced off a defender and directly to the foot of Pimley for the close-range finish just 20 seconds later.

“It took that goal, unfortunately, to get us started, but once we got going, we did phenomenal,” Showler said. “Scoring 20 seconds after conceding a goal – what a response. I’m just so proud of how we adapted to the different situations and dealt with them well.”

The first goal of the season for team’s defensive center mid was good, but she wasn’t quite done yet. With time winding down in the first half, the Vandals put the pressure on again. The Spartans cleared out a long forward pass from junior defender Lauren Layton, and once again, the ball found Pimley’s feet and she sent it into the mixer.

Pimley’s second attempt was a perfect, high-arcing lob that curved down into the right corner of the net to put the Vandals up 2-1 at the 40:50 mark and give the three-year starter her first career game-winner.

“I just tried to place it into the box, but it went in,” Pimley said. Also, the last time she scored two goals in a game?

“Not since I was a little bumblebee, playing in the kids league.”

The Vandals made the score hold true, but not without a fight from San Jose State. The Spartans threw everything forward in the final half and outshot the Vandals by a 10-3 margin, but the Idaho defense held strong to clinch the win.

The win brings Idaho’s record to 8-10-3, while San Jose State ends its season with a 6-12-1 tally.

“We’ve had a lot of games where we’re up by one goal and we know teams are just going to throw everything at us,” junior defender Christine Leathem said after the match. “We know that we just need to send everything forward and not let anything into the box – you just have to throw yourself in front of every ball.”

Overall, SJSU ended up with a 15-10 edge in shots, but on-target attempts were tied at six-all. Idaho keeper Caroline Towles made five saves, while SJSU’s Meghan Maiwald stopped four Vandal attempts. SJSU held a 3-1 edge in corners and was whistled for nine fouls to Idaho’s seven.

Of interesting note is that Thursday’s match marked the third consecutive game between Idaho and San Jose State in which a team scored a goal less than one minute after surrendering a score. Idaho put in a game-winning penalty kick 23 seconds after giving up a goal last year in a 2-1 win at Guy Wicks Field, and earlier this year, SJSU returned the favor with an equalizing goal 38 seconds after the Vandals had taken a 1-0 lead.

Key for the Vandals now is to recuperate and refocus for Friday’s semifinal match against top-seeded Utah State, which earned a first-round bye in the tournament. The Aggies defeated Idaho, 3-0, earlier this year at Guy Wicks Field.

“I’m so excited to be a part of it, and I’m really excited to keep going from here,” Leathem said of the tournament. “We have to recover well, get our minds back in the game and we just need to play our game, keep the ball on the ground, keep possession and not let them go forward.”

The match between the Vandals and Aggies will kick off at Noon (PDT). The winner of that match will advance to Sunday’s WAC Championship game.

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