PULLMAN – The Washington State soccer team made ample use of its six new banks of lights and state-of-the-art drainage system during its 3-0 season-opening win over visiting Texas Christian University on Friday night.
It’s just too bad the Cougars couldn’t spring for a roof.
WSU’s season began after a delay of 2 hours and 49 minutes because of lightning. Thanks to the new lights, the Cougars were able to play the first night game on the Lower Soccer Field. Despite the long delay, the Cougars showed very little rust when they did eventually take the rain-soaked field.
“I’m really proud of them. It says a lot, too, about our fitness,” coach Steve Nugent said. “Warming up, cooling down is not an easy thing to do and get yourself back ready again. But this is an incredibly fit team with a real understanding of where their bodies need to be to compete at the highest level, and it showed tonight.”
Kailiana Johnson scored Washington State’s first goal of the season in the 28th minute, on a penalty kick, after a pair of TCU defenders brought her to the ground during a shot attempt.
They added a goal when Mesa Owsley punched Cara Wegner’s corner kick sharply into the net in the 39th minute. Nugent had tried to get Owsley’s attention as the kick was setting up so he could sub someone else in, but was fortuitously unsuccessful.
Friday’s game was Nugent’s debut as WSU head soccer coach. He takes over a program that has made three straight NCAA tournament appearances. Nugent was 30-23-6 as the coach at UNC Greensboro prior to joining the Cougars.
“I have to pay homage and give credit to the people before me because the pressure I feel to do well here has a lot to do with the success that they’ve had here in the past,” Nugent said. “Cougar soccer has been on the national stage for many years and it’s because of the players and coaches that have been here before me. I just want to carry on the traditions and we want to make the alumni and the people that have come before us proud every time we step on the field.”
The Cougars added an insurance goal in the 74th minute when Beau Bremer sent a cross from the left side to Wegner, who picked up her second assist of the game when Jocelyn Jeffers knocked in a header.
Goalkeeper Gurveen Clair recorded her school-record 25th career shutout with two saves and picked up win No. 35, also a school record. The Cougars have won their last 26 meetings in Pullman against unranked, nonconference opponents.