Aggie Soccer Earns 2-1 Come From Behind Victory At Wyoming

Crystal BurnsThe Aggie soccer team closed out non-conference play with an exciting come-from-behind victory on the road at Wyoming. The Aggies got a pair of second half goals from Lauren Cope in the 64th minute and Crystal Burns in the 80th minute on the way to victory.

"It's a great win. A lot of factors go into making it a great win," said head coach Michael Needham after the match. "To play well on a Sunday is always a good sign going forward. To be at altitude for four days, four days above 4700 feet and today being at 7200 feet and being able to be behind at halftime and come back and score two goals and win, all those factors make it a very good and very big win for us."

Wyoming came out aggressive in the early part of the match and nearly took the lead in the 12th minute Nahiomy Ortiz knocked in a shot off a cross from Chelsea Coddington. However, offsides was called and the match remained tied 0-0. Wyoming would come back eight minutes later and take the lead as Wyoming forward Carmen Blume knocked a shot in the top left corner off a pass from midfielder Liz O'Reilly. " I thought they did a nice job of coming out and putting pressure on us right away," said Coach Needham. The Aggie defense would respond stopping attacks in the 28th minute and the 42nd minute.

"I think the hardest part of adjusting to altitude is that first time you try to take a deep breath and can't get it. We did a nice job of rebounding from that and finding our legs a little bit."

Following the Wyoming goal the Aggies adjusted to the 7,200 foot altitude and also settled in offensively and after being outshot early, the Aggies started putting together their own attacks. "We talked about it," said Coach Needham. "You might not be able to breathe great but you can still think, you can still play soccer and you can still compete. We did that." He added, "After about 20 or 25 minutes we got settled in and started to play and then I thought we played better soccer. We did what we were trying to do tactically and they weren't going to be able to withstand that in the second half. I think they scored at about the 20 minutes, from that 20 on I think we played pretty well and did a nice job of playing the way we wanted to play."

The Aggies trailed 1-0 at halftime but came out aggressively in the second half with a pair of shots in the 49th and 50th minutes from Nina Yanes and Vanessa Thomas. In the 64th minute Lauren Cope would find the top right corner on an assist from Crystal Burns to tie the match at 1-1. "We made some changes, we were talking about trying to play the game in about 15 minute spurts," said Coach Needham. "We made some changes, got some fresh legs on, Crystal [Burns] played a good ball through to Lauren Cope and Copey was composed and hit it with her left foot, which is not her favorite foot, put it up and over the goal keeper into the far corner. It was very similar to a goal she scored against Fresno State last year. It was a great goal, good finish and that got us started."

The two teams would remain tied heading into the final 15 minutes when Crystal Burns broke the tie with her sixth goal of the season this one coming from 30 yards out and finding the top left corner of the goal. "She got on the ball in transition and found herself in a place that she could step past somebody and shoot it and that's her strength if she can a ball going forward and hit it and shoot," said Coach Needham. "She's pretty darned dangerous. She did what she's good at. She stepped into a ball and hit it very hard into the top corner."

The Aggies would withstand one final push by Wyoming as the Cowgirls would get three shots in the final 10 minutes of the match.

Mikaela Bitner had a match-high six saves as the Cowgirls outshot the Aggies 14-10 in the match. Bitner made three saves in the first half and four in the second half en route to another victory in goal.

Wyoming goal keeper Courtney Merkle was credited with five saves.

With the victory the Aggies improve to 6-2-2 on the season as they head into WAC play on Friday at Nevada before returning home to face Utah State two days later.