On a night of outstanding defense, Washington State’s was just a bit better than Central Florida’s.
That was enough to give the Cougars a 1-0 win over the Knights in a first-round NCAA soccer match on Saturday night in Orlando, Florida.
“We did what we had to do,” said Washington State coach Todd Shulenberger, whose team was outshot 19 to 5 but will advance to a second-round match next week at Tennessee.
“We had to fight for everything in the second half and we did,” Shulenberger.
The Cougars (10-7-3) got a big break in the fifth minute, when a UCF defensive clearance went awry and was inadvertently headed for an own-goal.
WSU keeper Ella Dederick and her defense took over from there, posting their 11th shutout of the year while handing UCF its second loss of the season.
Dederick had six saves, while her defense had three more stops on the line.
WSU last advanced to the second round in 2011 following a penalty-kick shootout win over Kentucky.
Added Shulenberger: “Everyone counted us out flying us from Pullman to Orlando. And here go the Cougs. We’re excited. Back to business and on to the next round.”
USC 2, Eastern Washington 1: The best season in Eastern Washington history ended in agonizing fashion Saturday afternoon, as defending champion USC took a first-round NCAA win over the Eagles in double-overtime.
Seventeen seconds into the second overtime at the McAlister Soccer Field in Los Angeles, the Trojans sent a long cross from the left wing. The ball glanced off the hands of Eastern goalkeeper Emily Busselman and to USC’s Erika Okuma for an easy tap-in.
“This is a tremendous group,” EWU coach Chad Bodnar said after the Eagles finished 16-6-1. “We worked hard and we put up a great performance. We were hoping to get that last goal and have things go our way at the end.”
The 14th-seeded Eagles led for most of the match after the sixth minute, when Aimie Inthoulay’s shot caromed off the USC keeper and to the foot of Eastern forward Chloe Williams.
The Trojans held possession for most of the the first half, but were unable score on the EWU defense and Busselman who had three first-half saves.
After 45 minutes, USC was outshooting EWU 14-6 with the 1-0 lead still in favor of the Eagles.
USC (18-3-1) equalized five minutes after halftime on a goal by Alex Anthony, and had the upper hand for most of the second half. However, the Eagles mounted several strong counters despite being outshot 32 to 12.
“Honestly I thought for a large part of the game they were better than us,” said USC coach Keidane McAlpine, a former head coach at Washington State. “They showed why they won their league and are in the national tournament.”
USC had 15 corner kicks to three for Eastern.