Washington State is still searching for its first win of the season after settling for a scoreless draw against Portland on Thursday in front of ???? in the home opener at Lower Soccer Field.
Once again, the Cougars (0-1-1) applied plenty of pressure on their opponents, launching 18 shots with 7 of them on goal, but the Pilots’ (2-1-0) defense was compact and organized and most of the shots were benign.
In fact, through 45 minutes, it was the Pilots who had the best scoring chance, as Nadia Cooper spilled a cross into the box and then Portland pounced on the rebound to hammer a shot toward the left post. But Cooper scrambled and recovered in time to save the shot, which culminated Portland’s lone threatening spell on the night.
That said, WSU did have a trio of great chances in the second half that forced Bre Norris into saves, two of them of the diving variety. And this one just needed a little better direction:
Had the game continued on into overtime, the Cougars might have found a breakthrough. But overtime in the regular season has been eliminated this season.
Slow Start: Beginning with a loss to Michigan and then a draw to the Pilots to open the season is not the start that the Cougars imagined after earning their highest ever preseason ranking. And it’s not like they’ve been outplayed in these two games; they’ve had the better of the chances across those 180 minutes. But soccer is about scoring goals, and when you don’t score goals, results can feel a little bit unfair.
After the loss to Michigan, I wrote that it was actually an encouraging performance, despite the loss. In a vacuum, one could say the same about tonight. But when you put the two together ... it’s not exactly worrisome, but also, it doesn’t feel great. Sunday’s game isn’t technically a “must win,” but everyone will be asking a lot of questions if the Cougs don’t walk away with a win.
But that defense: The Cougars’ back line was stout all game, as we’ve come to expect. Reese Tappen, Mykiaa Minniss, and Bridget Rieken all went the full 90 minutes, while Aaqila McLyn started and went 60 minutes — presumably working her way back into shape after missing last season with an injury — before giving way to Khalia Gathright for the final 30. Portland came into the game with eight goals, but really only had one, roughly five-minute spell during which they put any real pressure on goal. When the Pilots tried to play out of pressure, the back line consistently won the ball back and sent it forward. Shutouts are good!
Lily Boyden looks like a player: Todd Shulenberger landed a top 10 recruiting class last season, and the jewel was Boyden, a striker from Utah. She played 44 minutes tonight and looked fast, dangerous, and skilled. It’s easy to see why she was so highly regarded. That she’s been able to force her way onto the field amidst so many talented and experienced players is a testament to her ability, and the future looks awfully bright for her.
There’s no time for the Cougars to dwell on the draw, however, as Eastern Washington comes to town on Sunday. Portland beat the Eagles 6-0 last weekend, so hopefully that’s a good sign for the Cougs to get into the win column.