Nevada advances to WAC final
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Randee Robinson picked the right time to score her first two goals of the season.
Robinson, who anchors Nevada’s air-tight defense, finished off two free kicks to lead the Wolf Pack to a 2-0 semifinal win over Utah State in the WAC Tournament Friday night at Mackay Stadium.
The victory sends the third-seeded Wolf Pack into Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship game against top-seeded Fresno State.
“I guess it took a while,” said Robinson, who had five goals last season. “It’s been frustrating. Last year I didn’t score in the WAC Tournament, so I’m switching it around.”
Robinson almost had a hat trick, but she was stopped late in the match.
“I thought it was going in,” she said. “I was really excited. Two goals is good enough. Have to save one for Sunday.”
On both goals, Robinson seemed to have no trouble getting by Utah State defenders to get in position to score the goals. The first one came in the 11th minute and the second came in the 75th minute. The latter was on an assist by ex-Douglas star Terran Hadlock.
“I was surprised,” she said. “Teams usually mark me tougher, During the season I didn’t get a chance. Maybe I just got lucky today.”
Utah State coach Heather Cairns said that it was Robinson’s effort more than defensive breakdowns that led to Robinson’s goals.
“We have not given up a goal on a set play all year,” Cairns said. “She’s a good player. Obviously she’s good in the air. Some of our girls thought she might have been offsides (one the second one). That’s why penalty kicks are so dangerous. One mishap can cost you.”
Nevada coach Terri Patraw said that free kicks and corner kicks are usually set up for taller defenders like the 5-7 Robinson and the 5-10 Jessica Wilcox. She said that Hadlock has been good all year putting the ball in the right places.
“Her (Robinson’s) air game is something special,” Patraw said.
The win was a historic one for the program. Nevada lost in the semifinals last year, so win or lose this will be the best finish in school history.
“We have a lot to play for (Sunday),” Patraw said. “Fresno State will get an at-large berth in the NCAA win or lose I’m sure. We have a chance (for an at-large).”
Nevada lost to Fresno State 2-0 back on Oct. 6, but Patraw said this is a different Nevada team.
“We’d been on the road for three weeks, and they had been off for 13 days,” the Nevada coach said. “They were extra fresh. It will be a great game. The situation is a lot more fair than it was the first time.
“We have to be more energetic. We were flat last time. They are a very organized team. They have five good seniors, so they are experienced. They played 110 minutes tonight. I was happy to see them go into double overtime and I don’t think he used many subs.”
Robinson said the Pack need to come out fast like they have the last two games.
“We did not play our game the last time,” she said. “We have to come out like we did today. It’s all or nothing. It’s the last game.”
Nevada almost found itself the victim of an early goal, as Utah State’s Abby Hunt lofted one that went over the crossbar by about a foot. That and a shot by Charity Weston in the 18th minute were the Aggies’ best scoring opportunities.
Approximately seven minutes after Hunt misfired, Nevada got on the board when Lauren Kinneman blasted a free kick toward the goal, and Robinson put it past Ali Griffin for a 1-0 lead. It was her first goal of the season.
“That early goal made all the difference,” Cairns said. “It allowed them to just go out and destroy.”
And that’s exactly what Nevada did. Utah State was outshot 18-6, and only four of the six shots were on goal.
Notes: With a day off, the Fresno State players should be able to recover. .. Patraw is hoping that midfielder Aivi Luik will be able to bounce back from an injury suffered in the first half Friday night. Luik has a deep Charley horse, and was held out of the second half. Kenishia Warren played well in her spot.
FRESNO STATE WINS 2 OT THRILLER
The top-ranked Bulldogs appeared headed for a shootout, but Andrea Salvador and Antonea Lugo had other ideas.
With the clock winding down in the second overtime, Sandoval broke down the right sideline and crossed the ball to Lugo, who slammed it past San Jose State’s Marissa Dayton with eight seconds left in the second overtime to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 semifinal win.
“Nobody knew how much time was left,” Lugo said. “Andrea went down the line and I knew I needed to get in there. Their girl missed it. The last 10 seconds .. I thought there would be a shootout.”
So did her coach Steve Springthorpe.
“I thought we were going to have one,” he said. “To win a game in the last eight seconds like that is rare. We played hard. Fortunately we were able to get a goal in the end. San Jose State played great.”
The Bulldogs kept their streak alive, too. Fresno State hasn’t allowed a goal against a WAC opponent all season.
“We really stress defense a lot,” said Lugo, a midfielder. “Defense wins games. We work on our movement all the time.”
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