|Soccer's run ends|
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
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
“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
“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.”