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USU soccer: birthday goal by Norris leads Utah State soccer to a 1-1 double overtime draw against Wyoming Sunday

SHARE USU soccer: birthday goal by Norris leads Utah State soccer to a 1-1 double overtime draw against Wyoming Sunday

Senior defender Natalie Norris drilled a penalty kick in the second half Sunday on her birthday to help lead Utah State soccer to a hard-fought 1-1 double overtime tie against Wyoming at Chuck and Gloria Bell Field.

The 1-1 tie was the Aggies third of the season and fourth draw overall. Utah State is now 5-2-4 on the season, while the Cowgirls had their first tie of the season and are 7-3-1 this season. The Aggies have tied in three of their last four matches with their last win coming on Sept. 7 against Eastern Washington, 1-0.

"I think this one, we aren't happy with it. This is a game where we felt like we left points on the table," USU head coach Heather Cairns. "It is not a draw that we are particularly happy with. We have to find some accountability in terms of scoring goals. That's really what we are struggling with right now. The rest of the play is great; we are possessing the ball, we are creating some opportunities, we are just not putting them away and that bit us today."

In the 34th minute, senior goalkeeper Ashlyn Mulford made a pair of saves on shots by Sara Paul.

In the first half, Utah State out-shot the Cowgirls, 12-5, but it was Wyoming that got on the board first. In the 35th minute, Lucie McDowell scored her team-leading fifth goal of the season with a header from six yards out. McDowell took passes from Liz O'Reilly and Sara Paul to give Wyoming the 1-0 lead.

The half ended with the same 1-0 score as the Aggie offense was not able to find the back of the net. Junior midfielder Kendra Pemberton led USU offensively in the first half with four corner kicks and three shots in the first 45 minutes.

McDowell continued to plague the USU defense with two shots early in the second half but had already received a yellow card at the end of the first half. Jenny Johnson committed a hard foul on junior forward Mari Miyashiro inside the box for a penalty kick in the 74th minute. The birthday girl, Norris, came through and tied the score, getting the ball past Wyoming goalkeeper Courtney Merkle.

"Today we came out and our first 15 minutes were probably the best start we've had in a game so far," Norris said. "Alternately we've been struggling for the first 15 and then we pick it up for the rest. We came out hard, got down a little bit, got the goal on us again but once we got the goal against us we picked it up and started playing again. To tie again, at least we came back from the 1-0 deficit but obviously we want the win."

The Aggies closed the end of regulation with an 11-on-10 advantage after McDowell picker up her second yellow card and was sent off in the 82nd minute. Sophomore midfielder Lexie Morgan gave USU a couple final chances firing off back-to-back shots in the 85th minute. Miyashiro also added a shot on goal just before the end of regulation.

USU then moved on to its sixth overtime match of the season, just one shy of the school record of seven overtime matches in 2006. The Aggies are also one tie away from tying the school record for ties from 2010 when USU went 9-7-5.

The blue and white had control much of the 20 minutes of overtime, out-shooting Wyoming, 4-1.

The match against the Cowgirls completes the non-conference portion of the Aggies schedule. USU now prepares for its eighth and final season in the Western Athletic Conference, beginning on the road against New Mexico State on Friday, Sept. 28, at 4 p.m.

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.