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WSU downs Oregon State, 1-0, to open Pac-12 play with a win

Former Beaver Sydney Studer provides the game-winning goal.

Washington State University Cougars soccer vs. Denver Pioneers, September 4, 2022. The Cougars won 4-2.
Sydney Studer scored the game winner for the Cougs.
Dean Hare/WSU Photo Services

The Washington State soccer team opened up the Pac-12 season with a 1-0 road victory over Oregon State on Friday night, picking up a seventh consecutive win to improve to 7-1-1 on the season.

The Cougs had been running over opponents as of late, outscoring their opponents 20-6 in their six-game win streak and never scoring fewer than two goals. Over their run, the Cougars had dominated both shots and possession on their opponents, but the first half of this one was fairly even — seven shots for OSU, six shots for WSU, and no score.

Only one shot from either team was particularly dangerous. It came from the Cougs, and it was about as close as you could get: After being played in beautifully by Margie Detrizio, MacKenzie Frimpong-Ellertson’s surgical shot beat the keeper ... but banged directly off the post and out:

The second half started to tilt toward the Cougars as they returned to their normal m.o. — winning lots of balls in the midfield and putting the back line under a ton of pressure. OSU began to tire, and by the 70th minute, with the game still deadlocked, it felt like only a matter of time before WSU broke through.

With the corner kicks mounting, the Cougs finally got on the board courtesy of an expertly placed header by one-time Beaver Sydney Studer:

The Cougars had two more golden chances to score goals in the second half: one by Alyssa Gray (who, after being played in beautifully by another OSU transfer, Brianna McReynolds, didn’t get enough juice or placement on the shot) and one by Margie Detrizio (who maybe took one too many touches with a free run at goal after a gorgeous pass from Lily Boyden), but OSU’s keeper Hailey Coll stopped both,

With WSU peppering the Beavers’ goal with seven shots on frame in the second half — and 15 shots overall — the closest OSU came to scoring was with a half-hearted shout for a hand ball in the box late. Otherwise, the Cougar defense owned the area in front of goal, combining with Nadia Cooper to post WSU’s third consecutive clean sheet.

The Cougars will next be in action on Thursday when they host Colorado at Lower Soccer Field for a 7 p.m. kick that will be broadcast on Pac-12 Washington.

Three Things

Stepping up: Oregon State was a bit of a step up in competition for the Cougs. It was a Pac-12 game on the road, and those are tough no matter the opponent. The Beavers assuredly also were extra motivated: They had lost four straight to the Cougars, and three of their former players now reside on WSU’s roster. The Cougs handled the increased intensity well, as you’d expect a veteran team to do, and in the end it was an OSU transfer who provided the final margin in the Cougars’ fifth consecutive victory in the series. Ouch!

Studly Sydney: It was, of course, poetic that a former Beaver scored the winning goal for the Cougars. But this is her second season on the palouse, and it’s increasingly clear that she’s become the heartbeat of the team — as midfielders often do. She leads with attitude on defense, she’s excellent at moving the ball forward, and she also is a legitimate scoring threat — particularly in the air, as we saw last night in scoring her third goal of the season. After getting sent off in the last game of last season, she missed the game against Michigan to open the year. It’s easy to imagine that loss — the only one of the year for WSU — going differently for the Cougs had she been in the lineup.

Playing tough: From the outset, the Beavers tried to turn this into a rock fight, employing physical tactics to try and move the Cougars off their game. It did work for a while, insomuch as OSU was able to hold some possession and keep WSU off the board. But to their credit, the Cougs maintained their focus and refused to be drawn into the foul-fest. As the game began to turn, the Beavers became increasingly frustrated — and the fouls became increasingly cheap and dangerous, which the referee was content to allow for at least a while. The Cougs maintained their composure, even as the Beavers piled up 15 fouls and five yellow cards, and walked away with a nice win.