Soccer snags first WAC win
After the first 45 minutes, Idaho soccer coach Pete Showler thought this game might turn out like many others this season — without a ball in the back of the net.
But then the floodgates opened and the Vandals scored twice in the second half to defeat the visiting San Jose State Spartans 2-0 Thursday at Guy Wicks Field.
“It was top notch, and that’s what we’ve been waiting for — to put a dominant performance together like that, every part in every part of the field,” Showler said.
The Vandals (4-11-1, 1-2-1) earned their first WAC win of the season behind goals from senior Chelsea Small and sophomore Annie Millard in the 51st and 73rd minute respectively. The two goals were only two of Idaho’s 24 shots on the afternoon, 12 of which were on frame.
On the other end of the pitch, center back Nitalia Zuniga and left back Emily Ngan bolstered a backline which allowed 14 Spartan shots, none of which really challenged Idaho goalkeeper Liz Boyden, who had four saves in the match.
Although the first half was scoreless, it wasn’t without action, as Idaho mustered 16 shots, two of which hit off the San Jose crossbar — the 11th and 12th time a bar has denied the Vandals a goal.
“The second half they came out and did the things that we asked and it paid off,” Showler said. “I said to them at halftime that we can’t have 16 shots and seven corners and not have a goal, so it’s coming and we just have to keep at it. Every player just played their socks off and it was tremendous.”
The breakthrough for Idaho came when midfielder Katie Baran fed a streaking Megan Lopez up the left hand channel who then hit a curling cross right to the head of Small who finished for her fifth goal of the season.
“Well before the game Chelsea and I communicated and said that we’re gonna score today, so there you go,” Lopez said. “I was in the right place at the right time and was able to pick her out. I know she is hungry for it, and she was in the perfect place for it and wanted to score.”
More chances came the Vandals’ way, but Spartan keeper Zoe Makrigiannis made several key saves on the day — 10 in total.
Following a Small for Millard substitution, the sophomore midfielder took an inadvertent flick on from a San Jose State player before striking a shot from 18 yards out that was saved, but not held by Makrigiannis allowing a Millard follow-up goal — the first of her career.
“It means so much to me (to score) because I’ve been working so hard and have never had a goal,” Millard said. “It was just right timing with the run, they flicked it on and the first one I kind of hit it at the keeper, but it bounced off and I got my goal.”
The clean sheet was Idaho’s second in as many home matches, when they last held Utah Valley scoreless in a 1-0 win Sept. 21.
Idaho will next take the pitch 1 p.m. Sunday at Guy Wicks Field against defending WAC champion Utah State.
Madison McCord can be reached at email@example.com