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Aggie Soccer Scores Late Penalty Kick To Down Fresno State 2-1 | bleedCrimson.net :: Your Source for NMSU Aggies Sports News

Aggie Soccer Scores Late Penalty Kick To Down Fresno State 2-1

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The Aggies celebrate a goal by Mary Kate Koziol against Fresno StateNM State vs. Fresno State Match Photos

The Aggie soccer team notched an important 2-1 conference victory on Friday night over visiting Fresno State. The Aggies earned a crucial three points in their quest to make the conference tournament. "I thought Fresno State was a very good soccer team and for us to get that result was very good and very important for us," said head coach Michael Needham after the match.

The Aggies had a pair of freshman score goals for the team as freshman defender Dani De La Vina scored in the 11th minute while freshman midfielder Mary Kate Koziol scored the game-winning goal on a penalty kick in the 85th minute.

The Aggie offense came out strong and aggressive and freshman Dani De La Vina put the Aggies on top in the 11th minute on a great individual effort as she scored from 20 yards out sending a ball in over the head of the goal keeper into the right side of the goal. "It started from the way she played defense which for her is really important," said coach Needham. "I think Dani went in, she won like three tackles in a row just putting them under pressure. She gets loose at the top of the box and she's pretty lethal. Their goal keeper is pretty aggressive off her line and Dani does a nice job of putting the ball up and over the top of her for a pretty good finish."

The Aggie defense would remain steady the rest of the first half sending the game into half-time with the Aggies ahead 1-0. "I think the first half was a complete effort. It was very very good. We did exactly what we wanted to do tactically and we were very disciplined," said Coach Needham. "We didn't want their goal keeper to get into a situation where she was pinging balls at our back four. She can do that. That kid can hit the ball 70 yards. What we wanted them [Fresno] to do was play out of the back and they put the ball on the ground and tried to play out the back. We did a good job of forcing them where we wanted to force them and putting them into places where we could put pressure on them and it turned into a lot of turnovers for us."

Neither team would score through the first 23 minutes of the second half, however, the Bulldogs would finally break through in the 79th minute off a free kick and a rebounded shot as Kendall VanDine would score off a rebounded shot by Claudia Cardenas. "They're [Fresno State] very good on free kicks," said Coach Needham. "That was an excellent set piece, clearly they trained it and they executed it perfectly and it was a great finish."

With the game appearing to be headed towards overtime, the Aggies sent a pass that found sophomore Yolanda McMillion who slipped through a pair of Bulldog defenders and got into the penalty box where she was fouled setting up a penalty kick in the 85th minute. "We get a ball in behind them and Yollie does what Yollie does and that's run hard and she runs right between two players and gets herself on a breakaway," said Coach Needham. "The referee recognized that Yollie had a scoring opportunity and gave a foul. You get a freshman in Mary Kate who said, "I'm taking it." Steps up and cool as a cucumber knocks it into the back of the net. Pretty cool, you win your first conference game in the 85th minute on a cool finish."

With the Aggies up 2-1 it was up to the Aggie defense and goal keeper Erin Wosick to preserve the victory which they would do. "I think it was exactly what I ask them to do every game," said Coach Needham. "I ask them to get better every game and I think from a tactical standpoint we were very good tonight and we learned a little different way to play and it was very effective."

Freshman goal keeper Erin Wosick was steady for the Aggies in the match and recorded six saves, five in the second half. "Erin did a good job. She was steady tonight," said Coach Needham. "She came out when she had to, she punched a ball away in the first half then came for the next one or two. I think she did a nice job coming off her line and she made the saves she needed to make. She made two big saves for us tonight in the second half that came at a real pivotal time. I was real happy with her performance."

The Aggies also got a strong performance from Cassandra Branch who Coach Needham felt provided a big boost. "Cass Branch was big time tonight," said Coach Needham. "She locked down their outside midfielder, she was good on the tackle, she was good in the air. She was a little unorthodox but kept balls inbounds, got balls down the line that we could run on to. All-in-all that was a performance that was inspiring for all the kids on the field and definitely for the coaching staff. For a kid that had to watch games for two and a half months and for her to come out and have a breakout night like that in a game that we needed and show that kind of passion and energy for what she was doing. It was really fun to watch her tonight."

With the win the Aggies improve to 1-4-0 in conference play and 7-6-2 overall and with their three points earned they move ahead of Fresno State and into a tie with Nevada at three points and are just behind San Jose State and Hawai'i who each have four points after Friday night's play.

"We've won our first conference game, that's off our back and now we can just start to play. I think we got back to Aggie soccer and that's working hard and playing as a team. That's what we're looking for."

The Aggies return to action on Sunday afternoon when they host San Jose State. Kickoff is set for noon at Aggie Memorial Stadium.