The Washington State Cougars opened the season with a frustrating loss to Michigan last week in Ann Arbor, and bouncing back tonight won’t be an easy task as they welcome the Portland Pilots to Lower Soccer Field for their first home match of the season.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT, and you can watch it on the streaming device of your choice via WSU’s website.
The Cougars, oddly enough, have never beaten the Pilots in 15(!!) tries. There was one draw in there, in the 2012 NCAA Tournament ... but Portland outscored WSU 6-5 in penalty kicks to advance to the second round.
The Pilots dominated the Northwest soccer scene for years, boasting a number of U.S. Women’s National Team players as alumnae, including Megan Rapinoe, Shannon MacMillan and Tiffeny Millbrett, as well as Canadian Women’s National Team stars Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt. They missed the NCAA Tournament just once between 1992 and 2013 (1999) and won 49 games over their 21 appearances, including two national championships (2002 and 2005). They also lost in the final once and advanced to the semifinals eight times overall.
Portland has fallen on hard times, though, having not made the tournament since 2013, as their Power 5 competition in the region has taken big steps forward over that time — led mainly by WSU.
That said, the Pilots are off to a solid start this season after a pair of games at home, picking up a 2-2 draw against Utah before dropping a 6-0 beatdown on Eastern Washington. The Pilots conceded 10 shots with five on goal to the Utes, who were one of the worst goal-scoring teams in the Pac-12 last season, so hopefully that bodes well for the Cougars’ high-powered attack tonight.
Last season’s leading goal scorer for the Pilots, third-year sophomore forward Nedya Sawan, is back to lead the line, and she’s got a goal and an assist in her first two games, including 13 shots. She’s the one who will draw the bulk of the attention from WSU defensive stalwarts Mykiaa Miniss and Bridget Rieken. Third year sophomore forward Aubrey Turner leads the Pilots with two goals, and might be coming into her own after minimal contributions in her first two seasons.
If you’re in Pullman and want to attend, admission is free!
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