PULLMAN – One second saved Washington State’s soccer team Sunday afternoon.
For 89 minutes and 59 seconds the Cougars couldn’t score a goal against Arizona, and as those final seconds ticked away it appeared they were on their way to a fourth Pac-10 loss to open the conference season.
But a lot can happen in one second. Just a moment before the final horn blew on what would have been another loss for the Cougars, another sound – the referee’s whistle – permeated the air. Senior forward Alix Rustrum was taken down by the Wildcats’ Kelly Nelson and WSU was awarded a penalty kick, setting coaches and fans into a frenzy. Arizona coach Dan Tobias, formerly the head coach at WSU, was ejected for arguing moments before the Cougars’ Carmen Anderson netted a tying goal as time expired.
And in the fourth minute of double overtime, Anderson drilled home a free kick to give the Cougars (8-6-1, 1-3 Pac-10) an improbable 2-1 win.
“If Alix hadn’t done a great job of getting the ball in position, we wouldn’t have even gotten there,” Anderson said of the penalty kick, which was angled toward the left post about waist-high. “If you get an opportunity like that you’ve got to make the most of it and good things will happen.”
Tobias went ballistic after the penalty kick was awarded, storming across the field and earning the red card. By the time the first overtime was over, a rattled Arizona (8-4-2, 1-3-1) team had received two additional yellow cards.
Play was stopped in the first overtime as the game’s referee demanded Tobias, who was watching the game from outside the field’s gates, return to the locker room.
Anderson’s second goal was – while coming under more normal circumstances – even prettier, as the senior from Kennewick had a free kick from the left side, arching it around a wall of defenders and into the top-right corner of the goal.
“We talked about maybe getting things back on track for ourselves,” third-year WSU coach Matt Potter said. “For us to come back and beat Arizona in the manner we did, coming back and trying hard, I’m excited for us.”
The Cougars had a few scoring opportunities in the closing minutes of regulation, but it appeared for a long time that Gianna DeSaverio’s header into the WSU net off of a corner kick in the 61st minute would stand up as the game-winner for Arizona – that is until 89:59. WSU senior goalie Katie Hultin registered four saves but wasn’t threatened much outside of the DeSaverio goal.
The Cougars have played just five of their 15 games at home thus far and will have to take to the road again next week against USC and No. 4 UCLA. But for now, Potter said he’s thrilled to win, even if it was in bizarre fashion.
“There’s nothing like leaving it to the last minute,” he said.
“Whether or not we deserved a win, I don’t know, but we found a way to get it done and we’ll take it.”
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