The NCAA’s grad transfer rule has been kind to the Washington State Cougars over the past year, and another one came up big for WSU soccer on Thursday night as Averie Collins sent in a laser from 20 yards out to defeat the Gonzaga Bulldogs in Spokane just nine seconds into overtime, 1-0.
Gonzaga started the OT period with possession, but the Cougs quickly pressured the Bulldogs into a loose pass, which Collins intercepted just inside her own half with nothing but green grass in front of her. The Zags never closed her down as she dribbled and dribbled and dribbled deep into the final third before finally letting go of an absolute banger off her left foot from just outside the box:
I don’t know how many keepers on the planet — women or men — are stopping that shot.
“I was looking to pass to (Morgan Weaver ) out wide, (Gonzaga) never stepped (up),” Collins told the Spokesman-Review. “And we all know how the rest went.”
It was the first game the No. 17 Cougs (4-0-0) have scored fewer than four goals in a match, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. Heading into OT, WSU had launched 23 shots on goal, including seven on target, but Gonzaga keeper Isabel Jones came up with a number of spectacular saves, including this one:
And this one:
And then Jones got a little help from the goalkeeper’s best friend (although she might have had it covered anyway):
The Cougars nearly gave the game away a few minutes later, as Gonzaga made a late push in front of more than 1,100 fans after ceding possession most of the night. WSU keeper Ella Dederick got caught out of position near the top of the box when the Cougs turned it over from about 35 yards out. Facing an open net, the Bulldogs player sent her rushed chip wide of the goal and the best chance for Gonzaga bounced harmlessly out of bounds.
Collins, a graduate transfer from Stanford who plays midfield, has supercharged what was already an excellent attack for WSU. She’s now got four goals on the season — on just nine(!) shots — to lead the team. Morgan Weaver, the Cougars’ leading returning scorer and Collins’ roommate, is second with three.
The Cougars return back to Pullman for their next match when they’ll host the Michigan Wolverines next Friday in the Cougar Classic. They’ll then travel to Hawaii for a pair of games against the Rainbow Wahini and Pepperdine to close out the non-conference season.
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