LARAMIE -- Behind the first career-goal for freshman Nikayla Copenhaver, the Wyoming soccer team (1-0-0) started its 2021 campaign with a 1-0 win over the Utah State Aggies (0-1-0) on Friday afternoon.

It was the seventh year in a row that the Cowgirls won its season opener.

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"Obviously the biggest part was getting to play again. It was exciting and managing the nerves was the biggest part for both teams," head coach Pete Cuadrado said. "It wasn't the prettiest game overall but happy with the fight we had. Utah State really battled, very physical and proud of this team on how we handled it."

There were some jitters from both teams in the early going as ten fouls were called in the first 27 minutes of the match. Wyoming would get the first shot on goal by Copenhaver at the 19:08 mark which went wide on goalie Diera Walton.

The Aggies saw its first opportunity in the 26th minute by Marli Niederhauser that was picked up by Hannah Lee. The Cowgirls really pushed most of the action on the offensive side of the field for a majority of the half. Finally in the 31st minute, Copenhaver received the ball across the left of the goal from Jazi Barela to put the Cowgirls up 1-0.

There was only one shot from Utah State the remainder of the way after the first 45 minutes. Each team had early chances in the first couple of minutes in the second half with saves by Walton and Alex Daws. Both teams really seemed to get in a grove until a shot by Ashley Cardozo in the 61st minute seemed to get Utah State on the offensive.

Their best chance came at the 76:06 with solid look by Jordan Foraker went high over the goal. Despite being outshot 5-1 in the second half, the Cowgirls would hold on to the 1-0 victory Copenhaver finished the match with two shots in her 64 minutes of action.

Senior Rilee Castilla recorded a shot on goal. Goalkeeper Hannah Lee had two saves in her 45 minutes of action while Alex Daws recorded three saves.

"I thought it was a team effort," Cuadrado added. "Our goal was scrappy, defending and holding them off late in the game was key. It applies to everyone that stepped on the field today. There were a lot of new faces on the field for us. We now have to turn out attention to a New Mexico team that's been historical strong."

The Cowgirls are back on the pitch Sunday against the New Mexico Lobos who defeated the Colorado State Rams today by a score of 4-1. The match is set to begin at 1 p.m. MT at the Louis S. Madrid Center. Due to COVID and social distancing practices, the capacity of the facility is being limited to 300 fans.

* University of Wyoming press release

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