Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Moscow, Idaho)
Jill Flockhart
Soccer's run ends
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 11/04/2011
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FRESNO, Calif. – Idaho soccer battled for a second game in as many days, but fell in the Western Athletic Conference semifinal to top-seeded Utah State by a 1-0 margin on Friday.

“I’m so proud of the girls,” Idaho head coach Pete Showler said after the match. “The girls gave everything they had. We’re disappointed, but we’ll learn a lot from it and come back stronger.”

It was a tightly-contested match against two very similar teams. The Vandals and Aggies battled to a scoreless halftime tie and started off the second half on a similar note, but USU broke the game open in the 74th minute with a quick counter-attack that set up a three-on-one break.

Aggie midfielder Kendra Pemberton took a quick pass from forward Shantel Flanary and put it away to the left corner for the game-winner at 73:52.

The Vandals pressed forward and pushed the pace in the final 16 minutes, but weren’t able to find an equalizer. Idaho did manage a pair of shots and put the ball into the mixer on multiple occasions, but could not break through.

“You’re so excited and determined and exuberant and frustrated all at the same time,” Idaho junior midfielder and team captain Megan Lopez said. “It was just at our fingertips the whole time. We really showed up for it – we gave the best battle we could.”

Idaho outshot Utah State by a 10-7 overall margin, while the Aggies held a 5-4 edge in on-target shots. The teams had four saves each, while USU had a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks.

The loss ends Idaho’s season with an 8-11-3 overall record. The Vandals finished 3-3-1 in the WAC for a fifth-place team standing. The Aggies move on with a 14-4-2 overall record.

Idaho achieved a number of program firsts this season and continued the team’s upward trend. The Vandals won their first WAC Tournament match and advanced to their first WAC semifinal, posted a second-consecutive .500-or-better conference record and put two players on the All-WAC First Team for the second season in a row.

They achieved all those things while also battling two season-ending injuries to goalkeepers and a handful more setbacks to field players. The team used 14 different starting lineups and struggled to find consistency early, but Showler said he was pleased with the way the team came together to finish the season.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” Showler said of the season. “We lost two keepers to injury early and Caroline stepped in and did a great job. We’ve had injuries all over the place and didn’t get a settled lineup until about six games ago.

“They’ve all worked and they’ve all improved, and we got better when it mattered. This program will continue making big strides.”

With just one senior on the squad, team captain defender Alison Page, Showler and the Vandals are optimistic that Friday was another step forward in the process of building the program, and that the team can use the experience moving ahead.

“I want it to hurt, because the girls need to know that they don’t want to feel that again,” Showler said of the loss. “When we get to this point again next year, we’ll take care of business. It’s an improvement from years gone by, and we need to keep taking those steps forward.”

The Vandals will take the rest of the semester to focus on school, recuperation and strength conditioning. The team will get back together in January to begin its winter conditioning and get started with 2012 season preparation.

“This season was a great learning year for us,” Lopez said. “We lose Larry (Alison Page), but we return everyone else and we’re going to add even more pieces. We all know how to play well and we all know how to battle through the tough times.”

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