LARAMIE, Wyoming — Utah State soccer (13-7-1, 9-2 MW) punched its ticket to its first-ever Mountain West Championship title game, as the 2-seed Aggies defeated 3-seed Boise State (10-4-6, 8-2-1 MW) 1-0 in an overtime thriller in the tournament’s semifinal round at the Madrid Sports Complex Wednesday afternoon.
“This is the stuff that we dream of, ever since I got here three years ago,” said Utah State head coach Manny Martins. “We’re not a team that sets outcome goals, we set performance goals and process goals, but the dream is to get to this place. So we couldn’t be more excited.”
The Aggie defense put on a dominant showing in the first half, not allowing a single Bronco shot until the 45th minute, a skied shot from 40 yards out. On the flip side, USU fired off seven first-half shots, including a pair on goal. The team’s best first-half opportunity came in the 24th minute, when a shot by junior defender Addy Symonds-Weichers required a diving save by the Boise State keeper. The Aggies also created four corner opportunities in the first half, while allowing just one.
Utah State continued to play tight defense and control the pace in the second half, recording eight shots to Boise State’s five in the second 45 minutes, but once again neither time was able to find the back of the net as regulation ended in a 0-0 draw.
Just over three minutes into the first overtime period, senior midfielder Whitney Lopez drew a foul just inches outside of the 18-yard box, which set the Aggies up with a free kick. The Logan native then stepped up and delivered a perfectly-placed strike just out of reach of the diving Bronco keeper to make it a 1-0 USU advantage. For Lopez, this was her second goal of the season and fourth of her career.
In need of a goal to keep their season alive, the Broncos registered four more shots before the match final, but none found the net. In the 105th minute, a foul inside of the box set Boise State up with a penalty kick. BSU’s Kenzie MacMillan stepped up to the line, but Aggie graduate keeper Deira Walton won the battle as she dove to her right and came up with the save.
This was Utah State’s seventh shutout over a Mountain West opponent this season, as the Aggies have allowed just one goal in their past six matches. In net, Walton made four saves to earn the clean sheet.
Utah State now remains in Laramie for the Mountain West Championship title match on Saturday, Nov. 4, at noon. The Aggies will play 4-seed Colorado State. Saturday’s match will be streamed on Mountain West Network, with links to the live stream and stats available on utahstateaggies.com.
Fans can follow the Aggie soccer program on Twitter, @USUSoccer, on Facebook at /USUSoccer and on Instagram, @USUSoccer. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter, @USUAthletics, Facebook at /USUAthletics and on Instagram, @USUAthletics.