Courtesy: Ilya Pinchuk (Moscow, Idaho)
|Vandals battle in 3-1 loss|
MOSCOW, Idaho – It was an evenly-played match from start to finish, but another tale of missed chances for Idaho women’s soccer on Sunday against Utah State in a 3-1 loss at Guy Wicks Field.
Idaho fell to 4-12-1 overall and 1-3-1 in the Western Athletic Conference, despite playing neck-and-neck with the WAC leaders, Utah State (9-2-6, 4-0-2 WAC), for most of the game.
Utah State took a 1-0 lead into the half, with the only difference in a slow opening period being Jade Tarver’s score after the Aggies won a foot race on a long ball over the top at 34:31. Idaho worked the ball into the offensive zone several times during the opening 45 minutes, but couldn’t connect in the final third.
“We executed the game plan and worked our socks off,” Idaho head coach Peter Showler said. “We pressured them high, got them to turn the ball over, and they were on their heels a little bit. They’re very well-organized, very well-coached, but for good chunks of the game, we pulled them around and created problems for them, so that was very pleasing.”
The only problem, Showler said, was that when that pressure created chances in the Aggie 18-yard box, there wasn’t enough support to finish them.
“We were doing well to create opportunities, but we didn’t get enough people in the box,” Showler said. “In the second half, we did a fantastic job of that and when that happens we’ve got to finish off those opportunities.”
The first part of the second half was primarily played in the middle of the field, but the Aggies went up 2-0 in the 76th minute when Ambryn McCallson popped a shot into the top corner for a score. Showler said he was proud of the way the Vandals kept their heads up and responded right away.
Idaho put the pressure back on and it paid off at 80:04 when senior forward Chelsea Small found an opening and unleashed a 25-yard bomb that just dipped under the crossbar to bring the Vandals within one goal at 2-1.
Holding all the momentum and pressing hard, Idaho put several shots on and around the Aggie goal, but a miscommunication on the defensive end led to a turnover and a break for Utah State, which Mari Miyashiro converted at 86:08 to create the insurmountable 3-1 lead and take the wind out of the Idaho sails.
“It’s unfortunate, because we worked so hard to get back into the game, then all the momentum shifts,” Showler said. “We can’t give a team of that quality half-chances.”
The Aggies held a 17-12 overall shots edge, but the Vandals had six on-target attempts to USU’s five. USU also had a 4-1 edge on corners and committed 13 fouls to Idaho’s five.
Idaho now enters a crucial stretch in conference play. With a road match at Louisiana Tech on Sunday and then two more home matches the following weekend, the Vandals need to earn more points to climb the conference standings and ensure a place at the WAC Tournament berth.
“We have to go to LA Tech and we have to get a win, there’s no two ways about it,” Showler said. “We’re expecting a really tough game and they’re riding high right now, so it’s no easy game.”
Sunday’s match kicks off at 11 a.m. (PT) at Ruston, La.