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Women’s Soccer Blanked by Utah State in Season Opener, 2-0

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State scored two goals late in the first half and sophomore goalkeeper Molli Merrill recorded her first-career shutout as the Aggies handed Northern Arizona a loss in both teams’ season opener, 2-0.

The first scoring chance game in the 8th minute, when Utah State forward Shantel Flanary got past Northern Arizona goalkeeper Penny Short, who was playing her first game in goal during her four-year Lumberjack career. The Aggie sophomore tried to angle a shot into the vacant goal from the right side but missed just past the left post.

In the 17th minute, Utah State forward Lauren Hanson entered the right side of the box unmarked, but her cross went errant and led to a weak try from forward Jamee Dyches that was corralled by Short for her first career save.

The Lumberjacks first shot did not come until the 26th minute, when sophomore Jenna Samora fired from the top of the box but missed wide to the left.

In the 30th minute, Hanson picked up a loose ball in front of the Lumberjack goal but partially fanned on a shot and Short made a diving stop on the slow moving ball ticketed for the right post.

Utah State got a break in the 32nd minute, when a lob into the box took a bad bounce and hit the left hand of junior Kristi Andreassen. Aggie sophomore Summer Tillotson took the ensuing penalty shot, squeezing it inside the right post past the dive of Short to give the home team the lead.

The Aggies added on in the 41st minute, as an NAU foul just to the left of the box led to a Utah State free kick. Sophomore Danielle Shorts took the set piece, placing it perfectly on the foot of the oncoming Flanary for a deflection into the top-left of the goal.

Northern Arizona sophomore Natasha Slaughter took over in goal to start the second half, and in the 61st minute made a fine diving save to rob Aggie sophomore Marissa Sanchez.

The Lumberjacks put their first shot on goal in the 66th minute, as senior Sarah Neatherton found space on the left side of the box. Her shot was stopped and corralled by Merrill for her first of four saves for the game.

In the 85th minute, Salmon broke through on the right side of the box and fired a shot over Slaughter. The try deflected off the crossbar and safely away from the goal, and, when Merril blocked a header by sophomore Ashley Marrapode off a cross in the 87th minute, the game finished with a 2-0 final.

Utah State dominated the statbook, posting a 13-1 first-half shot advantage en route to a 19-5 shot total overall. Short, making her first start in place of injured starter Tori Rocke, made 3 saves while Slaughter stopped 2 shots in a scoreless second half. Marrapode led the way offensively for NAU two with shots, placing both on goal. Flanary paced the Aggies with five shots, placing two on goal, while Dyches fired two of her four shots on net. The Lumberjacks were effective with their tries, putting four of five total shots on goal.

NAU concludes its season-opening road trip at Southern Utah on Sunday at noon.

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