With the defeat, fifth-seeded San Jose State concludes its 2007 season at 4-15-2 overall. Utah State, the fourth seed, evens its record at 10-10 overall and moves on to a Friday semifinal against top-seeded regular-season champion Hawai’i at 12:30 p.m. MST.
The Spartans ran into a hot and confident Utah State team coming off of three straight victories, all at home to round out the conference season, with 17 goals to their credit in those matches. Still, San Jose State started the game strong and had a pair of clear chances to score over the first 10 minutes, both created by outside defender Heather Oranje, one of eight seniors on the squad who completed their college careers, including seven who saw action in the contest.
Just over two minutes in, an Oranje through ball found junior forward Jessica Scott in the Aggie penalty box. Scott turned and shot from close range, but junior goalkeeper Ali Griffin made the save. Right before the 10-minute mark, Oranje’s cross from the right was headed just over the goal by junior Jennifer Guadagnolo.
In between, Utah State had its first opportunity to get on the board, with Abby Hunt, a first-team All-WAC midfielder, lofting a shot that was caught by freshman Spartan goalkeeper Sarah Wisotsky for her first collegiate save. Wisotsky made both her collegiate debut and first college start, replacing redshirt freshman Nina Butera in the lineup just moments before kick-off after Butera injured a finger on her left hand during pre-game warm-ups.
In the 16th minute, freshman forward Lauren Hansen, Utah State’s leading scorer heading into the game with nine goals, received a left-sided cross on the right wing in an open position, but Wisotsky charged out of her goal to successfully knock the ball away.
With San Jose State looking energized and playing well, the first Utah State score came against the run of play at the 19:38 mark, as Candice Clark hit a shot from just outside the penalty box that found the right corner of the goal. Fellow junior Lacey Christenson had her fourth assist.
Minutes later, junior Liz Behlen shot from the left side, with Griffin deflecting the ball wide for the Spartans’ first corner kick of the afternoon. On the ensuing kick, Scott found Jackie Zabek on the back post, but the senior tri-captain’s header went high.
Attempts to tie the game by sophomore Hallsie Pacheco and senior Nicole Irwin were off target before the Aggies doubled their advantage at 29:52 off a set piece. Lindsey Smart crossed from the right, Erin Salmon headed the ball down at the far post and Hansen tapped in from in front of the net for her 10th of the campaign. Smart and Salmon were both given assists.
Clark and Heather Pond added scores at 39:38 of the first half and late in the game at 83:52 for the final result, with Kiersten Nilsson and Salmon picking up assists.
San Jose State’s best chance to score in the second half came in the 68th minute as Griffin saved a strong header off the goal line by Zabek. Over the last 11 minutes, senior tri-captain Kristin Krale, who had moved up into the offense from her central defensive position, and Pacheco, had shots that went wide left and just over the crossbar, respectively. Krale and sophomore Roxy Kamal each forced saves by Griffin in the final five minutes remaining.
Wisotsky finished with four saves, as did her counterpart, Griffin, who earned her seventh individual shutout of 2007.
For the game, the teams were even in both saves and corner kicks at four apiece, with Utah State holding a 17-12 edge in shots taken.
Alongside Oranje, senior tri-captains Krale, Zabek and Heidi Romswinckel-Guise, as well as Irwin, the 2006 WAC Offensive Player of the Year, Erica Ng-Pinkerton and Tasha Van Dixhorn played their final matches in a Spartan uniform. An eighth senior, Kelly Madej, was unable to make the trip. All eight were part of fourth-year Spartan head coach Dave Siracusa’s first freshman class in 2004. Krale and Zabek did not miss a single game throughout their careers, each appearing in their 82nd match on Thursday. They leave the program tied for third all-time in school history in games played. Krale started her school-record 82nd match against Utah State. Zabek represented San Jose State on the 2007 All-WAC second team, as announced Wednesday, for her first postseason conference honor. Irwin says goodbye to the program in the top 10 all-time at San Jose State in six different statistical categories.
Erica Ng-Pinkerton and her younger sister, freshman Lauren Ng-Pinkerton, San Jose natives and products of Santa Teresa High School, both saw action as reserves against Utah State, becoming the first sister pair to appear in the same game for the Spartans since the 2004 season finale at Tulsa on October 31, 2004, when Vanessa and Ashley Afonso each played.
Starters Van Dixhorn and Wisotsky, sisters Erica and Lauren Ng-Pinkerton, junior Lauren Moniz, sophomore Roxy Kamal, redshirt freshman Brittany Boehm and true freshmen Danielle Drago and Kim Johnston all appeared in the first WAC Tournament game of their college careers.
San Jose State (4-15-2) - 0 0 - 0
Utah State (10-10) - 3 1 - 4
USU - Candice Clark (Lacey Christenson), 19:38
USU - Lauren Hansen (Lindsey Smart, Erin Salmon), 29:52
USU - Candice Clark (Kiersten Nilsson), 39:38
USU - Heather Pond (Erin Salmon), 83:52
SJSU - 12
USU - 17
SJSU - 4 (Sarah Wisotsky-4)
USU - 4 (Ali Griffin-4)
SJSU - 4
USU - 4
SJSU - 7
USU - 10