The women’s soccer team has established itself as a force to be reckoned with, with, sitting at second in the Mountain West standings. The Tigers won both of their games last weekend, beating the University of Nevada, Las Vegas 2–1 on Sept. 28 and taking down the University of Nevada 1–0 on Sept. 30.
The wins were supported by a strong defensive front in the face of significant pressure. Against UNLV, the Tigers endured 13 total shots, with five on target, and goalie Jade Odom ’21 saved all but one.
The only goal that UNLV managed came in the 19th minute on a penalty kick, but the Tigers stayed strong, only allowing one more shot in that first half. The Tigers came out strong in the second and leveled the score on a penalty kick from midfielder Lauren Milliet ’19. The game-winner came in the 75th minute, as defender Tayla Wheeler ’21 headed her second goal of the season on a perfectly placed assist from forward Kiley Suter ’22. “The weekend was huge for our confidence and reputation as a program,” Wheeler said. “Defending Stewart field and getting points at home are our main priorities. The Mountain West is tough, all the games have been super close, and so the fact that we are ranked second is exciting.”
On Sept. 30, the Tigers hosted Nevada in the lower-scoring match-up. Each team’s defense was sharp, but Nevada just couldn’t handle the Tiger pressure, and Milliet scored for the second time over the weekend in the 56th minute.
Milliet’s aggressive presence in the midfield was huge for the team, and she placed emphasis on the effect of constant offensive pressure.
“This year we have placed a lot of attention on work rate, starting with the front three. I think we pressured UNLV and Nevada’s defensive really well, which lead to opportunities in the attacking third,” Milliet said.
Although Milliet’s goal is what officially won the game, the Tiger defense was even more crucial. The defense only let up seven total shots, and when they were on target, Odom was able to keep Nevada out. She was announced as the Mountain West defender of the week for her performances, with six saves, several of which came at key points of the match.
Defender Camille Weaver ’21 noted several strong aspects of the Tiger defense over the weekend.
“The defenders did well with communicating with one another about the opposing team’s forwards, and I think we defended them well,” Weaver said. “We made sure to keep our feet and slow the forwards down until we got cover and other people behind the ball. We were going for a shutout in Sunday’s game, so it was really great to see that result as well.”
The Tigers now look ahead to matchups on the road against the University of Wyoming on Oct. 5 and Colorado State University on Oct. 7. Although she’s happy with the weekend’s results, Milliet still wants to see improvement if the Tigers are to continue their conference success.
“Looking forward I think it’s crucial for us to finish our chances when we get into the offensive third,” Milliet said. “We have been generating a fair amount of chances, but have only been scoring one or two goals a game. So, I think the challenge for us is to finish those opportunities and put teams away early.”
Wyoming is ranked fifth in the Mountain West, and they will sport a 7–3–2 overall record coming into their matchup against the Tigers. Colorado State hasn’t been as this season, with a 1–2–1 conference record and 4–5–3 overall. Because the conference is still so close, with only two wins separate first and sixth place, the Tigers will have to collect points and goals in each match.