Making the best of their opportunities kept the Aggies on top of the Mountain West Conference soccer standings.
Utah State wrapped up its first weekend of league action with a 2-0 win at UNLV on Sunday. The Aggies (9-1-1, 2-0-0 MW) only took four shots in the match, while the Rebels (7-4-0, 0-2-0) got off 12. It has been five years since USU began conference play with two wins in two matches.
Aggie keeper Diera Walton came up with three saves and recorded her league-best fourth shutout of the season. Walton has 14 shutouts for her career, which is tied with Megan Mills for fourth.
Jordan Foraker began the scoring in the 22nd minute. The senior forward took a pass from Ashley Cardozo and ripped a shot from the corner of the 18-yard box into the top of the net. Foraker also made the game-winner on Friday against Nevada in a 2-1 victory. On Monday, she was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week.
Late in the game at UNLV, Sammie Murdock got an insurance goal. In the 87th minute she got a pass from Cardozo and finished. Cardozo now has nine assists on the season, which is tied for second in a single season at USU, matching Kendra Pemberton.
Midfielder Kami Warner had the other two shots by the Aggies.
The shutout was all the more impressive as the Aggies started four underclassmen on the backline in freshman Addi Coon, redshirt freshman Addy Symonds and sophomores Kelsey Steed-Kaufusi and Kylie Olsen. Both Olsen and Steed-Kaufusi played the entire 90 minutes.
USU remains on the road for the next two matches. The Aggies will take in New Mexico (7-2, 2-0) on Friday in Albuquerque with first place on the line in the league.
The Aggie men’s cross country stayed put at No. 4 in the latest NCAA DI Cross Country regional rankings, which were released Monday. The USU women climbed one spot to No. 7 in the Mountain Region.
Leading the men’s Mountain Region is Northern Arizona, with Colorado leapfrogging BYU for second. Weber State rounds out the top five.
On the women’s side, BYU remained at No. 1, followed by Northern Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Colorado State to round out the top five.
USU swept the team titles last weekend at the Idaho State Invitational in Pocatello. The men, ranked No. 17 in the nation, finished with 26 points, while the women tallied 32 points for the victories.
In the men’s 6K race, Connor Weaver placed first for USU, followed by runners from Utah Valley and Idaho State. Devin Pancake and Garrett Woodhouse finished fourth and fifth, respectively, to power the Aggies to first place. Chase Leach and Justin Hodges also placed seventh and ninth to round out USU’s team score. UVU finished in second place with 46 points.
“It was great to have both teams get the win again today,” USU head coach Artie Gulden said in a press release. “Connor ran controlled most of the race and then opened it up to get the win. The guys ran tough and it was great to see them work together. The ladies worked together really well, too. They showed a lot of fight on a tough course.”
In the women’s 6K, Idaho State’s Katie Weeden finished first while LeAnn Larkin-Hatch passed two runners in the final 800 meters to notch a second-place finish for the Aggies. Taylor Smart and Sammi Lee crossed the finish line fifth and sixth overall. Madison Strasner and Taylia Norris finished eighth and 11th as USU edged out Idaho State by two points for the victory.
“LeAnn passed two girls the last 800 and did fantastic leading the women to victory,” Gulden said.
USU’s men and women are back in action Friday at the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The Aggies were swept at Colorado State, 25-17, 25-21, 25-8, on Saturday.
USU (9-5, 1-1 MW) led just once in the match early in the first set. The Aggies made it close in the second set, putting up a 6-0 run while the Rams (6-5, 2-0) sat at set point. An 11-point run by Colorado State gave the hosts the early momentum in the third.
Middle blockers Kylee Stokes and Katie Langford led USU with seven kills apiece, with Langford hitting .538. Libero Abby Peterson had a team-high 10 digs, while setter Kalena Vaivai led with nine assists. USU hit .068, while Colorado State hit .400.
The Aggies are home for a pair of Mountain West matches this week. They host Nevada (3-10, 0-2) on Thursday at 7 p.m., then San José State (8-4, 2-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Bodin Zarkovic was named the America First Credit Union USU Student-Athlete of the Week Monday.
Zarkovic, a junior from Belgrade, Serbia, reached the semifinals in singles play, with wins over No. 6 Bruno Caula of Utah (6-3, 6-1), No. 24 Francisco Bascon from Idaho (6-4, 6-4) and No. 32 Matheus Leite of BYU (6-4, 6-4) at the ITA Regionals held in Provo. The transfer from Minnesota did not drop a set during singles play until the semifinal round, which is the furthest a USU player has advanced at ITA Regionals since 2016.
Playing alongside David Cierny in doubles play, Zarkovic also advanced to the quarterfinal round via victories over teams from Weber State and New Mexico.