<strong>SEATTLE -</strong> Freshman Maris Hamblin picked the perfect moment for her first collegiate goal, scoring with just over a minute remaining in the first overtime to push the Utah State soccer team past Seattle, 2-1, on Friday at Championship Field in Seattle.
At the 98:59 mark of the match, sophomore forward Jade Tarver won the ball and played it to Hamblin at the back of the goal. With a quick turn, Hamblin fired a shot with her left foot, finding the back of the net to give Utah State its third overtime win of the season. The assist the first of the season for Tarver.
With the win, Utah State has now won three-straight matches after tying three in a row. The Aggies are 8-2-6 overall and 3-0-2 in Western Athletic Conference action to remain in first place with 11 points. Seattle is now 7-6-1 overall and 2-1-1 in conference matches. The Redhawks were 10th in the West Region rankings, while the Aggies stood ninth.
“It feels really great to close out a game. We started out slow in the first 10 or 15 minutes and they really made us pay for it. They are a great attacking team. They get numbers forward, and have some dangerous players. The girls made some good adjustment. It was a game where sometimes they were dominating, and sometimes we were dominating. It was a great back and forth game. Both teams had chances to win it,” USU head coach Heather Cairns said.
The Redhawks wasted no time getting on the board, taking a 1-0 lead when Stephanie Verdoia scored in the fifth minute. She got the ball past USU senior goalkeeper Ashlyn Mulford for her eighth goal of the season. The goal snapped a streak of four-straight shutouts for USU. The Aggies had not allowed a goal since tying Wyoming, 1-1, on Sept. 23.
Junior midfielder Jennifer Flynn took USU’s first shot of the match in the 12th minute that was corralled in by Seattle netminder Brianna Smallidge, who ended the match with four saves.
The Aggies responded in the 40th minute of the first half, scoring on their third shot on goal. Junior defender Jackie Tillotson scored her first goal in the blue and white with a shot after a direct kick by junior forward Mari Miyashiro. The assist was Miyashiro’s fifth of the season as she leads the team in both assists and points this season with 11.
The half ended with the score knotted 1-1. Seattle out-shot Utah State 8-3 in the first half.
In the second half, both defenses shined. Utah State started the half aggressively with Tillotson firing a shot that was saved by Smallidge. Sophomore forward Lauren Roundy and Jade Tarver both got off shots in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
USU’s defense buckled down. The Redhawks had two shots on goal in the first half and would not have another the remainder of the match.
The first 90 minutes were not enough, and the overtime Aggies were at it again. This was USU’s school- record ninth overtime match this season and fourth in its last six matches.
As the second ticked off the clock in the second half, Hamblin stepped in to be the latest Aggie to come through. Hamblin had her first collegiate point last week with an assist against Texas State.
“Our team has been doing a fantastic job of spreading the scoring around. It started last weekend and continued today with both Jackie (Tillotson) and Maris (Hamblin) getting their first Utah State goals. We continue to be a diverse attack and that is exactly what we want to be. We have a lot of players stepping up,” Cairns added.
Utah State remains on the road to face WAC rival Idaho on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. (MT) in Moscow, Idaho.
Fans can follow the Aggie soccer program at <a href=”http://twitter.com/USUSoccer”>twitter.com/USUSoccer</a> or on Facebook at <a href=”http://facebook.com/USUSoccer”>facebook.com/USUSoccer</a>. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at <a href=”http://twitter.com/USUAthletics”>twitter.com/USUAthletics</a> or on Facebook at <a href=”http://facebook.com/USUAthletics”>facebook.com/USUAthletics</a>.