Washington State University’s women’s soccer team has been here before – just a little more than two months ago, in fact.
But coach Matt Potter’s team hasn’t done what its hopes to do Friday, when it takes on host and eighth- ranked Virginia at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The game, which is the nightcap of a doubleheader that includes a second-round matchup between Texas A&M and Virginia Tech, kicks off at 4 p.m. PST, and the Cougars (12-6-4) should feel somewhat comfortable with the surroundings.
It was on Sept. 9 that WSU came into the same venue and played the then fourth-ranked Cavaliers (15-4-2) to a 0-0 tie in a regular-season nonconference game. Potter, in an effort to improve on that effort, flew his team back East on Tuesday to settle in again.
“We’re tying to keep everything as familiar as possible,” said Potter, whose Cougars knocked off their first-round opponent, Kentucky, on penalty kicks in Lexington, Ky., last weekend. “It’s nice that we’ve been here before, because our players know what to expect.
“We’re staying in the same hotel and eating at the same restaurant here, which bodes well for us, I think, because the more comfortable we can make them, the more they can focus on their own performances.”
Potter expects his young Cougars to have their hands full again against an offensive-minded Virginia team that is 13-1-1 at home this fall and has outscored it opponents by a 52-16 margin.
“First and foremost, Virginia is an incredibly gifted team,” Potter said. “And when you play them at home, you expect to be under a lot of pressure the entire game. They’re record would allude to that.
“And, obviously, they’re comfortable at home, because they’ve only played a handful (five) of games on the road.”
The Cavaliers, who finished 7-2-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, are paced by junior forward Caroline Jones, who has 14 goals and four assists. But they have plenty of other offensive weapons, including freshman midfielder Morgan Brian, who has nine goals and six assists.
“We know the magnitude of the task at hand,” Potter said. “There are some things we need to do as well as we did last time we played here, and there are some things we need to improve on.
“But the beauty of this group is that they recognize that and are looking forward to playing a little bit better than they felt they did the last time we were here.”
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.