Nov. 4, 2011
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -
The Wyoming Cowgirl soccer team (12-5-4 overall) advanced to its first-ever MW Championship final with a 1-0 defeat of the San Diego State Aztecs (10-7-3 overall). Cowgirl Carmen Blume scored the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute with a header to the corner of the Aztec net.
"This team has a lot of fight and I think Wyoming fans would be proud of how we played," UW head coach Danny Sanchez said. "Any game can go either way in this tournament and today showed that. I am just really proud of how this team has fought all season."
The Aztecs started the game taking five shots in the first 19 minutes. Aztec Cat Walker put their first shot on goal in the 15th minute, but Cowgirl keeper Courtney Merkle made an excellent play on the ball keeping it out of the UW net. SDSU kept the pressure on the Cowgirls when Sophie Metz put another shot at the UW goal forcing Merkle to make another save. In the 20th minute, Lucie McDowell took UW's first shot of the game, but it went wide of the SDSU net. On the counter attack San Diego's Kelsey Booth took a shot that went wide of the Cowgirl net. Both teams battled for possession for the next 10 minutes before SDSU put another shot at the UW goal, but the ball sailed wide. Ellen McCormick put UW's next shot on goal in the 37th minute, but Aztec keeper Rachel Boaz made the save. In a primarily defensive game, neither team was able to manage another shot in the first half and the teams went to halftime tied 0-0.
In the second half SDSU stayed on the attack taking two shots in the first 10 minutes, but neither threatened the UW goal. McCormick put UW's first shot on goal in the 66th minute, but Boaz made the save. Two minutes later SDSU's Sophie Metz put at shot at the UW goal that sailed high of the net. Kasey Curtis took UW's next shot in the 72nd minute that hit the crossbar of the SDSU goal and bounced over the top of the frame. One minute later, Cowgirl Kristen Howard put her head to the ball putting her shot on frame, but it also was saved by Boaz. Neither team took another shot until 10 minutes later when the Cowgirls used an SDSU breakdown to break the tie. In the 83rd minute, McDowell crossed a ball into the SDSU goal box and Blume put her head to the ball putting it in the back of the SDSU net. The Blume goal gave the Cowgirls a 1-0 lead and she was assisted by McDowell and McCormick. For the next seven minutes the Cowgirl defense stiffened, but SDSU took two shots forcing Merkle to make a game-saving play. Her save in the 87th minute sealed the 1-0 Cowgirl victory.
"I thought we gained a lot of confidence in the second half," Sanchez said. "We were able to possess the ball more in the second half and that really helped our confidence. (On the goal) Lucie made a great service and Carmen came through with a really quality finish. We really defended well the last seven minutes to come away with the victory."
The 1-0 victory advances Wyoming soccer to its first-ever MW Championship Final. Although the Cowgirls were outshot 12-6 by the Aztecs they put one more shot on goal (4-3). Blume scored her third goal of the season and her first game-winner. McCormick led UW in shots with two and assisted on Blume's game-winning goal. Merkle made three saves in the game including the gave-saving play in the 87th minute.
The Cowgirls will now await the winner of the second semifinal between No. 1 seed New Mexico and No. 4 seed UNLV. The MW final will be played on Sunday, Nov. 6 with kickoff set for noon MT. Cowgirl fans in Laramie can watch the MW Championship match on Sunday at the Library Sports Grille and Brewery. The game will be televised on the Mtn. Sports Network channel 412/124 on Optimum/Bresnan and 616 on DirectTV.
"We are really looking forward to Sunday, whoever we play," Sanchez added. "Our games with both teams were very competitive and I expect Sunday will be the same. We know it is going to be a battle and we need to be ready to play."