After barely passing a pop quiz last weekend, the Washington State women’s soccer team faces a major test this week in the Bay Area.
In their Pac-12 opener on Friday, the 25th-ranked Cougars needed Kourtney Guetlein’s goal in the 89th minute to overcome winless Oregon State 1-0 – a match WSU dominated apart from the final score.
We did a great job of staying after an Oregon State team that made it very difficult to play,” said first-year coach Steve Nugent, whose team bombarded the Beavers with 20 shots.
“A road win in conference, no matter how you get it, is a big one,” Nugent said.
The opportunities are bigger this week, with a Friday date at No. 14 Cal and a Sunday match at top-ranked Stanford.
“This has been the gold standard in Pac-12 soccer for a long time, so we’re excited about the chance to play good teams … a true test for our team,” Nugent said.
According to Nugent, the Cougars are 6-0-2 partly because of the emergence of leaders in junior forward Beau Bremer, sophomore defender Kailiana Johnson, junior forward Kourtney Guetlein and sophomore forward Kaitlyn Johnson.
“I don’t want to overlook the players, but their leadership has been instrumental,” Nugent said.
Through eight matches, Bremer leads the Cougars with three goals and two assists, including a cross that Guetlein put into the OSU goal.
The scoring barrage continues for the Eagles, who tied a school record Sunday in a 5-1 win over Weber State.
More important, Eastern is 4-4 overall, its best record since 2007 at the same point in the season, and is the only Big Sky Conference school to score in every match. The Eagles are 1-1 in the Big Sky, having lost 2-1 in overtime two days earlier against Idaho State.
The Eagles continue to climb in the national rankings. EWU ranks 35th in the nation for scoring offense (2.25) and 48th in points (6.13), the two highest rankings any Eastern Washington women’s soccer team has ever received in the separate categories eight games into the season.
Freshman Savannah Hoekstra has five goals and senior Cassie Black has four.
Like the Cougars, Eastern faces a big road test, Friday at defending regular-season champ Portland State and Sunday at Sacramento State.
The Vandals, picked to finish ninth in the Big Sky, are 2-0 in conference after sophomore Kavita Battan scored her second straight game-winner Sunday in a 1-0 win over North Dakota.
Battan scored the game-winner in the 21st minute after sophomore keeper Torell Steward punted the ball to Battan, who found an opening on the weak side of the field and made a dash for the goal – firing it in from 10 yards out.
“I think this win, more than anything proves to the team that what we have been doing the past nine weeks is paying off,” coach Derek Pittman said.
The win came two days after Battan scored in the 78th minute to overcome Northern Colorado, 3-2.
The Vandals are back in action Friday at Southern Utah. Idaho returns home Sunday to face off against Northern Arizona at 1 p.m.
The Pirates are still unbeaten following a pair of one-sided road wins in Northwest Conference play, but a big home test awaits.
After a 7-1 trouncing of George Fox on Saturday, the Pirates (8-0-1, 3-0-1 NWC) got two goals from Karl Muelheims in a 4-1 win at Pacific.
The Pirates return home to face Pacific Lutheran on Friday and defending NWC champion Puget Sound on Sunday.