For the first time in a month, the Utah State soccer team played host as they lost 2-1 to San Diego State Friday afternoon. The match was the conference home-opener for the Aggies and marked a milestone as it was the 300th with Heather Cairns as the head coach.
The first half was a tightly contested defensive half. The Aggies had several close calls early, including a Bailee Hammond open-net shot that ricocheted off the goal post. San Diego St. would push early and often in the Aggie defensive half for most of the early match.
Freshman Ashley Cardozo continued her top form play as she seemed to be everywhere in the midfield for Utah State. She had one shot in the first half that seemed destined to find the back of the net, but she put too much on the shot and the ball hit the crossbar. The game remained scoreless going into halftime.
“I thought it was going in for sure,” Cardozo said, “but then I heard the ‘bink’ sound.”
Of the five shots the Aggies had in the first half, not one was on goal.
“The goals are going to come,” Cairns said after the match.
The first half was physical match-up as there were a total of eight fouls, five on SDSU and three on USU. The Aggies outshot the Aztecs by a total of 5-to-1 and each squad had two corner kicks.
San Diego St. came out firing in the second half, turning a corner kick in the 48th minute into the first goal of the afternoon. Mia Root scored her team-leading fifth goal of the season.
Four minutes later, after a ball was skied into the air, Aggie keeper Sara Cobb tried punched it away but crashed into the post as the ball fell into the net extending the Aztecs lead to 2-0.
Later in the half, the Aggies were on alert as key defender Mealii Enos came out of the game, limping her way back to the Utah State bench. She would come back into the match nearly five minutes later.
“Everyone’s good,” Cairns said. She added the team has a “next man up” mentality and complimented her team for being ready to hop in the game at any moment.
The Aggies went on to score in the final 10 minutes of play, as Hammond sprinted down the left wing and found a waiting Cardozo, who cut the Aztec lead in half 2-1.
With her sixth goal, Cardozo now is tied for the second-most goals in Aggie history.
The Aggies continued to press and threaten within the final five minutes, stringing together tough plays and lucky bounces, but would be beaten by the clock and the final whistle signalled the San Diego St. victory. Utah State is winless against the Aztecs all-time, owning a record of 0-6-1 against them.
The Aggies are now 6-4-1 on the year, and 1-2-0 in conference play. They will finish the weekend homestand by hosting New Mexico on Sunday at 1 p.m.