In the kind of complete performance we hadn’t yet seen this season, the Washington State Cougars’ soccer team scored four goals in the first half and rolled past Northern Colorado, 6-0, at Lower Soccer Field in Pullman on Thursday night.
The Cougars have now won five straight and improved to 5-1-1.
“It should have happened a while ago, I guess, but we’ve been striving to get that point where we’re at in a season where we’re closing games out,” coach Todd Shulenberger said after the game. “Again, we’re shooting the ball like crazy — which is good — tonight it went in. ... It was nice to see the closing out of the game and not falling asleep — mistakes things like that — so it was good to get the close out.”
Indeed, the Cougars took 27 more shots against the Bears — including about half a dozen that hit the post — and while college box scores don’t keep possession stats, the first half likely would have been around 75% to WSU as the Cougars basically lived in the Bears’ final third, racking up 16 shots before the break.
Massively outshooting opponents hasn’t always guaranteed goals this season, but the Cougars seem to have finally found their finishing boots, now scoring 13 goals over their last three games.
“Well, we just were more composed in front of the net,” Shulenberger said. “I think we rang the post a couple times, too. Their keeper played a heck of a game as well. So, put it on frame, make the keeper make a save, attention to detail in front of goal, and we’re going to create opportunities — we’ve just got to find those players, and right now it’s a long, healthy list of players that are scoring goals, which is great to see.”
While lots of players have been getting in on the action, few players in the Pac-12 are scoring more than star forward Margie Detrizio, who now has a goal or an assist in every game but one.
She got it going in the 11th minute by continuing her dominance in the box, holding off a Northern Colorado defender to loop an unstoppable volley off a great cross from MacKenzie Frimpong-Ellertson into the corner of the net:
The Bears finally crumbled under the pressure. Following an own goal in the 22nd minute that made it 2-0 (which would have been tapped in by Detrizio, anyway), Frimpong-Ellertson — who had been quiet this season while playing reduced minutes — picked up her first goal of the season just one minute later with a skillful dribble into the box and a clinical shot to the far post:
Four minutes later, center back Bridget Rieken made it 4-0 with a header off a corner that might have also been an own goal, but hey, we’ll give it to her!
In the second half, Detrizio and Rieken each secured their brace — Margie by cooly tucking away a poor clearance from the Bears, Bridget by once again getting her head on a free kick:
Detrizio now has six goals and four assists in just seven games.
Meanwhile, maybe the best news of the night was that the Cougars kept their first clean sheet in about three weeks. Dominating possession surely helps, but WSU has done that in most games — it’s usually been lapses that have led to opponent goals. There was none of that on Thursday.
“I mean, you’re gonna grow, your team needs to go through these moments,” Shulenberger said. “We’re learning each game, we’re learning something different here to get us prepared for what is going to be a great conference run this year for everybody. I don’t think it’s anything other than the fact that we’re learning by example and the girls did a good job with it tonight.”
Goalkeeper Nadia Cooper didn’t get her second shutout of the season, however, as she made way in the 76th minute of the blowout for Aurora Schuck to get her first minutes as a Coug.
WSU now faces Saint Mary’s on Sunday in the Cougs’ final non-conference game of the season. That game will kick off at 1 p.m. PT and you can watch it here.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to watch the assault on goal against Northern Colorado, WSU has made the full game replay available on YouTube: