The Washington State Cougars are off to a flying start in soccer, winning their first three conference matches by a combined score of 5-0 to sit atop the Pac-12 standings with nine points.
Those wins, however, were against three teams with only one conference win between them. The road is about to get much harder when Stanford visits Lower Soccer Field tonight. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. and you can watch the game on Pac-12 Network and Pac-12.com (with a subscription).
The game is the proverbial six-pointer, and it carries even more significant importance for the two teams.
The Cougars, despite a 9-1-1 record and the pedigree of a long NCAA tournament streak (2020 notwithstanding), remain unranked. (They’re currently second in the “others receiving votes” category.) The game presents a prime opportunity for WSU to show the rest of the country that they are, in fact, the real deal against a team they haven’t beaten in years.
Meanwhile, the Cardinal, who have won two of the past four national championships, are ranked No. 14 nationally after dropping a 2-1 stunner at home to Oregon State last week — the first time the Beavers had ever won there. Stanford, whose only other losses were at No. 4 Duke and at No. 5 North Carolina, certainly will be looking to assert itself once again and avoid dropping six points back of the top of the table so early in the season.
One thing seems certain: There will be goals. Maybe lots of them. These are the top two scoring teams in the Pac-12, with nearly identical offensive stats:
I suppose there’s always the chance that both teams are wary of the other’s potent attack and the game gets a little cagey, but I’d actually bet on the opposite — women’s college soccer is pretty wide open by nature, and I’d lean toward this one being a track meet up and down the pitch with lots of chances for both teams.
The weather should be gorgeous, which hopefully will mean a big crowd and lots of home field energy backing the Cougs.
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