CEDAR CITY, Utah — The Portland State women’s soccer team’s 12-match Big Sky unbeaten streak came to an end Sunday, as the Vikings couldn’t overcome two first-half goals from Southern Utah in a 2-0 loss to the Thunderbirds at Thunderbird Field.
With the win, Southern Utah (5-3-1, 2-0-0 Big Sky) becomes the first Big Sky team to beat the Vikings (3-4-3, 0-1-1 Big Sky) since the Vikings lost 2-1 to Idaho State on Oct. 12, 2012. The Vikings’ loss to Idaho State was also the last time the Vikings gave up two goals to a Big Sky opponent during the regular season.
The shutout loss wrapped up a two-game road trip to Northern Arizona and Southern Utah for the Vikings on the opening weekend of the Big Sky Conference schedule. PSU tied NAU, 1-1, on Friday night in Flagstaff.
“It’s a difficult road trip, but we knew that and players didn’t rise to the challenge,” PSU head coach Laura Schott said. “Southern Utah was the better team today. Hats off to [SUU head coach] Becky [Hogan] and her staff. Their team deserved the win today.”
Southern Utah scored both its goals within a 10-minute stretch in the middle of the first half. The Vikings had run out to a 4-1 shot advantage in the early going of the match, but the momentum shifted in the 21st minute with the Thunderbirds’ first goal. Sophomore forward Logan Harker started the play on the Thunderbirds’ first goal, crossing a ball from the left end line to freshman midfielder Abbie Flandro on the back post. Flandro sent a quick shot past PSU goalkeeper Caitlin Plese from there, firing the shot into the upper left corner of the net.
The Thunderbirds added their second goal before the Vikings could recover from the first as the Thunderbirds capped a dominant 10-minute stretch by scoring in the 31st minute. Freshman forward Payton Bonino scored the second goal for the Thunderbirds, as she followed a shot from senior defender Christine Meehan that Plese initially saved but couldn’t corral.
The goal put the Vikings in a 2-0 hole just 30 minutes into the match, forcing the Vikings to play catch-up during the rest of the match.
The Vikings came out firing with four shots in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the SUU defense kept them out of the net.
The Vikings then pressed again around the 75th minute behind shots from freshman forward Mackenzie Bean and junior forward Tamia Hasan. Junior midfielder/forward Cori Bianchini also had a look at a goal a little later, when the Vikings found her with room in the box in the 76th minute. SUU goalkeeper Taylor Bolding came out at a good time, however, and blocked the ball away from Bianchini to negate the scoring threat.
Sunday’s win gives Southern Utah its fourth win in a row, after two double-overtime wins last weekend, and a 2-1 win over Sacramento State on Friday. The Thunderbirds also outshot the Vikings 15-11 overall in the match, while Bolding recorded her second shutout of the season in the Thunderbirds’ 2-0 win over the Vikings Sunday.
The Vikings look to bounce back this coming weekend when they host Eastern Washington and Montana on Friday, Oct. 3, and Sunday, Oct. 5, respectively, at Hillsboro Stadium. Both matches will kick off at 1 p.m. (PT).
Match Notes: The Vikings fall to 2-1-1 all-time against Southern Utah with Sunday’s loss. Thunderbirds have now shut out the Vikings in their last two matches against them, as the teams tied 0-0 at Hillsboro Stadium last season.