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Vandals fall just short in WAC Tournament

6 Nov

Sean Kramer/Argonaut

When the Idaho soccer team headed to Fresno, Calif. for the WAC tournament it did so with the confidence to bring back its first conference championship in program history, despite being seeded fifth.

That was until the Vandals ran into No. 1 seeded Utah State, falling 1-0 to the Aggies who are favored to win the entire tournament.
Idaho played Utah State tight playing to a scoreless draw deep into the second half until the Aggies took advantage of a counter attack opportunity to score the winning goal.

“We just got caught off guard and they countered our throw in really quick. They caught us on our heels,” Junior defender Lauren Layton said. “It’s disappointing we had that let down on defense.”

The match was somewhat similar to one played weeks prior in Moscow between the two teams, also played scoreless until the half until Utah State broke out with second half goals. The difference was Friday afternoon Idaho kept up their pace of play deep into the second half believing it could pull off the upset.

“Knowing that it was 0-0 people were extremely positive. People were determined. We knew we had to get the ball moving in the second half. We had a positive mentality going into the second half for sure,” Layton said.

Instead, Idaho coach Pete Showler says his team fell inches short despite playing as well as Utah State.

“This difference is we controlled the play most of the game. Our girls completely out played them. That’s what makes it more disappointing and harder to take,” Showler said. “I told them it’s tough to lose at this stage of the tournament. But hold their heads up high because I’m very proud of them.”

The Vandals earned their way into the semi-finals by defeating San Jose State a day earlier, the first conference tournament victory in program history. Last season, the Vandals were one and done in the tournament losing to Fresno State in their first match.

“Last year’s tournament we were just excited to be there. We were still pretty young,” Layton said. “This year we came in with the mentality that we wanted to win it and that we wanted to compete.”

Idaho’s road to the conference championship was derailed by a Utah State team that finished with the best record in the WAC, and a team that Idaho had lost to 3-0 earlier in the season.

“At the end of the day their record is a very good record and it’s a good record for a reason,” Showler said. “I’ll give credit where credit is due. They stick to what they’re good at and they do it will.”

Still, Showler says the Vandals were completely capable of victory on this day.

“There’s a lot of parity in women’s soccer. I think that’s become more and more evident in every conference. Ours is no different. On any day any team can win those games,” he said.

The Vandals look to go into next season with momentum from their tournament run. Every player who logged minutes in the conference tournament returns next season.

“It wasn’t meant to be this year,” Showler said. “We’re going to be more competitive, more depth and more strength next season.”

WAC Soccer Tournament Preview

2 Nov

Sean Kramer

Argonaut

After a long season of highs and lows for the Idaho soccer program, it’s all come down to one thing – A  shot at the WAC conference championship.

The team is on its way to Fresno, Calif. to participate in the Conference tournament for a second consecutive season, a goal that they set for themselves at the very start of the year. While simply qualifying for the tournament for just the second time in program history could be considered a success for Idaho, this year the only aim is to come home after winning the whole thing.

“We’ve got a chip on our shoulder,” coach Pete Showler said. “It’s a chance for us to go and prove where we’re at. The girls are very well mentally prepared, very well organized. They’re up for this.”

The Vandals are seeded into the quarterfinals of the tournament. In order to be crowned WAC champions, the Vandals need to win three consecutive matches throughout the weekend. The champion gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Standing in their way to the finals are San Jose State and Utah State, two teams the Vandals weren’t able to beat in the regular season.

“We didn’t come out with the right mindset for those games,” starting goalkeeper Caroline Towles said. “We were a little bit off all around the field. The time around it’s gonna be a different focus. We’re focused on winning, we’re not distracted, we know what to expect this time.”

The attitude around the team is that the conference tournament is a new season, and things that have happened earlier in the year do not matter.

“Conference tournament is completely different. It’s starting fresh, every game is a must win. The attitude and approach will be that much more focused, “ Showler said. “The girls know what they’ve got to do. Things that have gone before us is the past. It’s win or go home.”

“It’s a clean slate,” Towles said. “Conference is now irrelevant at this point. Our goal was to get here, and we did that. Now it’s to win it.”

Last season the Vandals entered the tournament with momentum as the number the seed, facing a Fresno State team that qualified as the last seed. Idaho conceded early goals and never recovered, as the Bulldogs went on not only to win that game, but the entire tournament.

This year the team believes it’s more prepared for the challenges that await them.

“Last year we were really excited but really nervous and didn’t know what to think coming out for it. We didn’t really understand how important each game was” Chelsea Small said, the team’s leading goal scorer. “We want to win, because it wasn’t a fun trip home last year. This year we’re going to go into that first game knowing either we win or we go home. We really realize how important it is to take it one game at a time.”

“Last year we learned that anything could happen,” Towles added. “Going in there and knowing that we can go in and compete with every single team we play and that anything is possible.”

The message of confidence and to play within themselves is a constant one from Showler to his girls as they approach what could be a potentially program defining weekend.

“On our day we can compete with anybody and we just have to go and show that,” he said. “There’s only one thing that’s in mind and that’s to win.”

 

Good morning Vandal Nation: Oct. 19, 2011

19 Oct

It’s bye week here in Moscow, and despite the sorrows we’re still feeling from Saturday’s heartbreaking loss; soccer, volleyball and tennis have given us reason to keep faith in the Mighty Vandals.

FOOTBALL

VOLLEYBALL

SOCCER

TENNIS

OTHER

Video story: Vandal Soccer heads to WAC championship

2 Nov

Whew, talk about updates galore. We’ve been slacking slightly on the video stories, but these babies are back in full swing. Front and center — a recap of Idaho’s weekend and looking ahead to the WAC tournament. Excitement abound.

Photo Gallery: Idaho soccer vs. Portland State

1 Oct

Kate Kucharzyk provides a visual look at the University of Idaho soccer squad’s 3-2 win over Portland State on Tuesday. The Vandals are off to their best start in school history with a 9-3 record.

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Good Morning Vandal Nation: Nov. 5, 2009

5 Nov

We’re ramping up hoops coverage here at Vandal Nation — but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about football.

Idaho’s Chelsea Small became the first Vandal ever named to the soccer All-WAC First Team. She led the WAC in shots with 101, scoring eight goals and adding four assists to lead the Vandals.

Now for your morning links.

Football

Basketball

Good Afternoon Vandal Nation: Nov. 3, 2009

3 Nov

We’re a little bit late today with the links – our apologies, but academics had to get taken care of first!

Let’s get straight to them, and everything else can wait.

Football

    Basketball

    Volleyball

    Soccer

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