Laramie, Wyo. – Wyoming soccer begins its Mountain West campaign with back-to-back road games this weekend. The Cowgirls take on the Boise State Broncos on Friday at 4 p.m. MT before traveling to Logan, Utah for a matchup with the Utah State Aggies on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Wyoming enters league play with a 4-3-1 mark after the non-conference slate. The Cowgirls were selected to finish fourth in the preseason MW Coaches’ Poll with 84 points, ahead of their two opponents this weekend. Boise State garnered 80 points to claim the fifth spot, and Utah State was picked seventh with 71 points. UW is 19-16-4 in conference competition under head coach Pete Cuadrado.
“We know where we’re at as a team, we know where people play the best, which formations work for us, and I think our team has a lot of confidence going into conference play,” Cuadrado said. “We had some tough road trips, which I think replicates conference competition, so we’re ready to get on the road. We have a veteran group and I think we’ll rely on that as we go.”
The Cowgirls average the third-most shots per game at 16.88, as well as the most corner kicks per game with 6.50. Junior forward Shaina Ashouri, who leads the Cowgirls in shots (20), ranks seventh in the MW in shots per game (2.88). Senior defender Katie Marcheso remains UW’s leading goal scorer and sits tied for eighth in the conference in scoring with three goals on the year.
On the defensive end, the Cowgirls own the third-lowest goals-against average at 0.95. Junior goalkeeper Georgia Rowntree is one of five conference goalkeepers to record three or more shutouts this season, and her goals-against average of 0.96 ranks fourth in the MW. Rowntree and junior defender Alisha Bass lead the team in minutes with 752 and 711, respectively.
“In conference play, intensity and focus pick up and I’ve seen that already from our team this week,” Cuadrado said. “When you look at our league, anybody can beat anybody this year. It’s a very competitive conference and it’s completely open to any team that steps up. So that’s our job, to make sure we take care of business.”
Boise State begins MW competition at the bottom of the standings with a 1-7-1 record through non-conference play. The Broncos are winless in their last eight games after earning a victory over Idaho State in their season opener, 2-1. BSU most recently dropped its final non-conference match, 2-1, at Washington State.
The Broncos are not afraid to play physical, leading the conference in fouls committed with 95. Their defense has been vulnerable this season, however, currently tied for the most goals allowed (14) among MW teams. On offense, BSU is a second-half team, netting seven of their eight goals in 2016 in the second frame.
Sophomore forward Eva Herrera leads the Broncos in scoring with three goals this season. Junior midfielder Sarah Taylor and sophomore forward Allegra Weeks are tied for the team lead in assists with two each.
Wyoming leads the all-time series with Boise State, 7-2-1. The Cowgirls are 2-2-0 against the Broncos under Cuadrado, and 1-1-1 in games played in Boise. Wyoming claimed the 1-0 victory over BSU at home last season.
Utah State sits just below Wyoming in the conference standings with a mark of 4-4-0. The Aggies are led by senior forward Jessica Brooksby, a First Team All-MW selection last season. Brooksby is tied with three other Aggies for a team-best three goals on the season, and leads her squad in assists with five, tied for the best mark in the MW.
Utah State will face Wyoming in its final match of a five-game homestand. The Aggies are currently 2-1-0 in their stretch of home matches and face Colorado State on Friday before welcoming the Cowgirls to Logan on Sunday. Utah State fell to in-state rival No. 6 BYU in their last contest, 3-1.
Sunday’s match will break the tie in the all-time series between the Cowgirls and Aggies, which is locked at 4-4-2. Wyoming claimed the victory in last season’s showdown, 2-1, in Laramie. The Cowgirls are 1-3-2 against Utah State on the road.
The live stream of both matches will be available through GoWyo.com, and will also be available for viewing on the Mountain West Network at TheMW.com and on Campus Insiders at CampusInsiders.com. Live stats can be found at the links above. Follow the Cowgirls on Twitter (@WYOSOCCER) for live updates throughout each match.