The Washington State Cougars were bounced in the second round of the NCAA soccer tournament by the No. 1 seed Georgetown Hoyas on Friday, 1-0, bringing a season of crazy highs and lows to an end.
The Hoyas had not lost all season, and the Cougs did not go quietly. Georgetown scored in the 10th minute on a set piece off its first corner kick, leaving WSU to chase the game for the final 80 minutes. They chased it valiantly, racking up 10 corners to Georgetown’s seven, and the Cougars put four shots on goal without conceding again — goal keeper Rachel Thompson was credited with four saves. However, they never could break through for the equalizer.
Notably, the Hoyas did an excellent job of limiting the Cougs’ most dangerous player, Morgan Weaver. The junior striker had just one shot on the day.
The game was fairly indicative of the Cougars’ season in that they showed they could play with anyone in the country — they were the last undefeated, untied team in the country earlier this year while soaring into the top 10 of the rankings. They also were one of two teams to play top-ranked Stanford to a tie.
But it also was a squad ravaged by injuries; while the team was down multiple starters — including goalkeeper Ella Dederick and forward Elyse Bennett, both of whom were strong all-conference candidates — the Cougs suffered a midseason five-game slide. Ultimately, the losses cost them a high seed in the tournament and put them on a path to facing the Hoyas on the east coast.
“It’s always tough to end your season especially when you have a special group of seniors,” WSU coach Todd Shulenberger said. “I am super lucky to been able to coach these ladies. It’s been another great season for Coug soccer. I am very proud of this team to accomplish another NCAA run. The season itself experienced a ton of highs while fighting through a ton of adversity. We are a proven contender now and I know this team will continue to grow and will be hungry for more while representing this great university.”
The Cougs’ finished the season 13-6-1 overall, tied for the fifth-most wins in program history. It was the second consecutive season WSU had advanced past the first round, and was the fifth time in 12 NCAA appearances the Cougars advanced out of the first round. It was just the second time in program history the Cougs have made it out of the first round in back-to-back seasons, the first being in 2009 and 2010.
That said, the future is still extremely bright for WSU. Although the Cougs will have to replace stalwarts Maddy Haro (all-conference second team), Meagan O’Neill (third team), and Grace Hancock, everyone else returns — including Weaver, an all-conference first teamer who scored 12 goals.