24 Sep Garcia’s Late Score Helps NM State Hang On for 2-1 Win at Dixie State
ST. GEORGE, Utah – One WAC match, one WAC win.
Bella Garcia, who continued to sport a massive cast due to a broken arm suffered earlier in the season, headed in a sensational strike in the 79th minute for her first goal of the year and the NM State women’s soccer team held off a late charge by Dixie State to earn a 2-1 win in the WAC opener for both teams Thursday night at Greater Zion Stadium.
29′ | For much of the game, it appeared as though Shea O’Connor’s penalty kick goal would hold up as the game winner. O’Connor set up shop from 15 yards out and blasted a rocket to the middle-left portion of the Trailblazers’ net.
78′ | Set up beautifully by Khari Price, Garcia made the most of her second-half scoring chance. Taking a feed from Price who was coming up the far side, Garcia played Price’s pass perfectly and punched the ball over the outstretched arms of a diving Kayla Gonzales. Garcia’s header handed the Aggies a 2-1 lead.
80′ | The Aggies’ two-goal lead didn’t last long, however, as Dixie State made it a one-goal game less than two minutes later. Jill Bennett’s shot beat NM State netminder Makenna Gottschalk and cut the Aggies’ lead to one, but the Aggies’ defense held strong for the final 10 minutes and gave up no more Dixie State shots.
KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• Two of Gottschalk’s six saves in the Aggies’ WAC win came in the final 45 minutes of action. Before O’Connor’s penalty kick goal in the 29th minute, Gottschalk kept the Trailblazers off the board by registering three of her four first-half saves.
• Though NM State was outshot by an 8-5 margin, the Aggies made their shots count. O’Connor finished with a pair of shots on goal while Garcia’s shot on goal represented the lone one by a member of the Aggies’ bench.
• O’Connor took over for the team lead in goals scored by pumping in her third of the season. For her career, O’Connor has racked up 11 goals – the seventh-most by any Aggie in program history.
• With her six saves on the night, Gottschalk hiked her career save total to 91 – the seventh-most by any NM State netminder in the history of the program.
• The win represented NM State’s second consecutive victory in a WAC opener. During the spring 2021 season, the Aggies hammered Chicago State, 5-0, in their first WAC tilt.
• Head coach Rob Baarts moved to 2-2 in WAC openers during his tenure as the Aggies’ bench boss.
• With the win, NM State has amassed four true road wins thus far in 2021. That ties the program record for the total number of road victories in a single season.
• The Aggies improved their all-time record to 2-0-1 against Dixie State. All three games the teams have played have taken place in the 2021 calendar year.
• NM State moves back to the .500 mark, improving to 5-5 on the year. With a 1-0 mark in WAC play, the Aggies are .500 or better in league action for the first time since March 12, 2021.
QUOTABLE | HEAD COACH ROB BAARTS
“The girls grinded out a big road win tonight. With several players injured, our team came together and battled. We came up with a tremendous conference win tonight. Dixie State is a solid team that was difficult to break down. I’m very pleased with our result!”
COMING UP NEXT
• Just a shade over five months removed from their last meeting, NM State and Utah Valley are set to duke it out on the pitch once again. The rematch from the spring 2021 WAC Women’s Soccer Tournament semifinal showdown which came down to penalty kicks is set for 7:00 p.m. Saturday night from Orem, Utah.
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