Courtesy of Utah State Athletics
PROVO, Utah — Utah State soccer (14-8-1, 9-2 MW) saw its season come to a close in the first round of the NCAA Championship Friday evening, falling to 1-seed BYU 2-0 at South Field.
With the loss, Utah State concludes a historic 2023 campaign which saw the team win its first-ever Mountain West championship, while winning a program-record nine league contests and finishing with 14 total wins, second-most in program history. This was also just the third time in team history the Aggies made it to the NCAA Tournament, and the first time since 2012.
“We played a good game overall, and when you get to this point the most important thing is to get the result and we didn’t get it today, but I’m really proud of the way our team fought,” said Utah State head coach Manny Martins. “We had some really great moments then we had some moments where we fell short, and obviously against a great team you get punished. Overall, we’re proud of how we fought and how we had the resilience to keep fighting all the way to the dying seconds of the game.”
After handing the Cougars one of their two regular season losses when the teams faced off on Sept. 16 in Logan, the Aggies faced an early deficit against the nation’s top-scoring offense as BYU struck just 10 minutes into the match. A left-footed shot by Kendell Petersen found the bottom corner of the net, the first goal USU had allowed in over 300 minutes of action.
While the Aggie defense played strong behind five first-half saves from graduate keeper Diera Walton, the Cougars fired off 12 shots while limiting USU to just three in the first 45 minutes.
The Cougars struck again in the 73rd minute, when Olivia Katoa fired off a shot from just outside of the 18-yard box off the crossbar, which then deflected off of Walton and into the net.
In the final game of her record-setting career as an Aggie, Walton finished with a season-high-tying seven saves while playing all 90 minutes in net. Junior forward Bizzy Arevalo, sophomore forward Kaylie Chambers and junior midfielder Kaitlyn Richins each led the team with a pair of shots in the match.