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No. 9 WSU soccer remains perfect with 2-1 victory over Oregon

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Plus, your daily links, including a cool feature story on WR (and Netflix star) Calvin Jackson Jr. by the Spokesman-Review.

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The Washington State Cougars’ homecoming football game is about 36 hours away, but sorry, we’re a soccer school now, so that will have to wait. All eyes continue to remain on WSU’s ninth-ranked soccer team, which kicked off a big weekend on campus with a 2-1 victory over the Oregon Ducks on Thursday night.

WSU moved to 9-0-0 to remain the only unbeaten and untied team in the country, keeping pace with No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 USC with six points atop the Pac-12 table.

The Cougs were coming off their biggest win of the year, a 1-0 road victory over soccer blue-blood (and erstwhile top-10 ranked) UCLA that vaulted them into the top 10 themselves, but there’s no rest in the Pac-12, which is known as one of the top one or two soccer leagues in the country every year. The unranked Ducks were no slouch, entering Lower Soccer Field with just one loss on the season.

After a scoreless first half, in which the Ducks put the Cougs under quite a bit of pressure to force Rachel Thompson into three saves, WSU broke through first:

Not shown in that clip — but captured in the highlight video at the top — is that the eye-popping counter attack was started with a gorgeous outlet pass by Thompson to Brianna Alger, who carried the ball up the left side before finding Sydney Pulver in the middle. Led by a perfectly weighted pass from Pulver, Elyse Bennett lost her marker with a fabulous outside-in run before neatly tucking the ball in the corner, and then commencing one of the best celebrations you’re going to see all year.

Oregon got back level about 10 minutes later, scoring when a free kick by Sofia Chambers deflected off the wall and wrong-footed Thompson, who had no chance of stopping the shot:

The Cougars turned up the heat at that point, dominating possession for the remainder of the game and putting the Ducks under constant pressure. Oregon committed a foul in the 69th minute just past midfield, not normally a particularly dangerous spot to give away a free kick, but the Cougs have been superb on set pieces all season. Last night was no exception:

You can’t make this stuff up. That’s how it goes when a team is as hot as the Cougs are. They’ll finish up their homecoming weekend home stand with a match against the Oregon State Beavers — who have won just one match all year — on Sunday. Kickoff is at noon PT and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.

Links:

A Pair of Second Half Strikes the Difference for No. 9 Washington State - Washington State University
PULLMAN, Wash. – In a classic Pac-12 matchup on the Palouse, the No. 9 Washington State soccer team (9-0-0, 2-0-0) finished strong to take down Oregon (7-2-1, 1-1-0), 2-1, underneath the Thursday night lights at Lower Soccer Field.

Oregon soccer falls to Washington State Cougars 2-1 in Pullman - Emerald Media

No. 9 Washington State soccer stays perfect | KLEW
PULLMAN, WA – The No. 9 Washington State Cougars soccer team is still perfect in 2018, beating the Oregon Ducks 2-1 on Thursday night in Pullman.

9th ranked WSU soccer kicks off Homecoming weekend with a win - KXLY
Despite the slow start, the Coug answered the bell and with an impressive second half to remain the only perfect team in the nation.

O'Neill helps UO tie, then vaults Cougs | Sports | dnews.com
Maddy Haro assisted on the game-winner as the Cougs improved to 9-0-0 overall and 2-0-0 in the Pac-12 in the conference match before 1,254 at the Lower Soccer Field.

Football

OK, fine, let’s get to some AMERICAN football. There’s a lot of typical Friday previews out there, but Theo Lawson of the Spokesman-Review checks in with a cool feature on wide receiver Calvin Jackson Jr., who to this point is probably best known for his role on the Netflix docu-series “Last Chance U,” which chronicled the 2017 season at Independence Community College in Kansas.

“Even if we’d go talk to our guidance counselor, they were right behind us, so it was very overwhelming,” he said. “I’m looking over my shoulder.”

Jackson Jr. said he was only nervous about one scene. In a game late in the season, he and embattled QB Malik Henry, a former four-star recruit who transferred from Florida State, engage in a verbal altercation on the sideline.

Other scenes reflected his mission to improve in the classroom. During another episode, cameras visit a weekly book club, held by English teacher LaTonya Pinkard, who becomes one of the show’s starring figures as she works to enhance the academic resume of ICC’s football players and ensure they’ll become eligible to transfer.

Jackson Jr. attended the voluntary book club on a regular basis and said it rubbed off on him as he straightened out his grades.

“What Ms. ‘P’ spoke to me and (teammate) Emmit (Gooden) about, was, ‘A man with a book is dangerous,’ ” he said. “I took that and I ran with it.”

Now, he seems to be approaching a bigger role in the offense for the Cougars. After starting the year as the No. 3 “Z” receiver, he’s now listed with Rodrick Fisher as the backup to Tay Martin at “X,” but neither he nor Fisher made any catches against the Trojans. Jackson did have three catches against Eastern Washington, however. For now, Martin is playing almost all the snaps at X, and finding a bit of production behind him is a priority.

“With Easop (Winston Jr.) emerging and and Dez (Patmon) playing well, that is kind of the place where we’re trying to find a place to get a second guy we think is reliable,” Leach said. “He’s quick. He looks promising, and he bursts out of his cuts real fast.”

With four games in the books, and Fisher not really making much of an impact on the offense, one has to wonder if the true freshman might now be headed for a redshirt. We’ll find out on Saturday.

Other links:

VIDEO: Leach hopes "X" marks the spot for juco wideout Jackson
Leach says he's hoping to find backup for Tay Martin and RBs will continue to split time.

Sharrieff Shah Confident Utes Can Stop Washington State - UteZone
Utah defensive back coach Sharrieff Shah discusses the challenge of slowing the Washington State passing game

Video: 'Whoever's hot, keep feeding them' says Nichol of WSU WRs - Cougfan.com
Inside receivers coach says Patmon, Winston have improved play through work with Steve Spurrier Jr.

PFF College's Week 5 NCAA spread picks | NFL Draft news and analysis | Pro Football Focus
The exotic looks offered by one of the best (and most entertaining) offenses in the FBS will create enough separation for the Cougars to cover the points at home.

Utah Utes vs. Washington State Cougars Prediction and Preview
Both Utah and Washington State find themselves in similar positions as the two teams clash on Saturday. Both teams are looking to bounce back from disappointing losses in their respective Pac-12 openers.

Pelluer Named Campbell Trophy Semifinalist - Washington State University
IRVING, Texas – Washington State linebacker Peyton Pelluer was named a semifinalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announced Wednesday.

Video: Washington State defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys post practice Sept. 27 - The Spokesman-Review - Sept. 27, 2018
Serving the Inland Northwest since 1883. Spokesman.com provides breaking and in-depth coverage of Spokane area news, sports and community.

Opponent Preview: Washington State’s Offense - Block U
The Washington State Cougars lost quarterback Luke Falk, arguably the most prolific passer in school history to the NFL after last season but have continued putting up video game-like numbers.

COUGARS' OPPONENT: Pullman will be familiar turf for Utes' Paulo | Sports | lmtribune.com
Offensive right tackle Darrin Paulo, younger brother of former WSU defensive lineman Darryl Paulo, paid frequent visits to Pullman during his high-school years and seriously considered becoming a Cougar. Wazzu made his short list, along with Utah, Nebraska and Oregon.

Everything Else

WSU Academic Services Announces September Student-Athletes of the Month - Washington State University
Football's Hayden Schmidt and soccer's Emma Dahline are September's honorees.

Cougars Head To Wisconsin For Nuttycombe Invitational - Washington State University
Women's and Men's teams prepare to run at Zimmer Championship Course.

Armstrong Finishes Fourth After Strong Third Round to Lead Cougars - Washington State University
Washington State finished sixth at the Husky Invitational, which ended Wednesday.

Bayerlova Advances to Quarterfinals at ITF Hilton Head - Washington State University
HILTON HEAD, S.C. – Washington State's Michaela Bayerlova had little trouble advancing to her quarterfinal match at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Hilton Head tournament Thursday at the Van Der Meet Shipyard Racquet Club.