LOS ANGELES – The best soccer season in Eastern Washington history ended Saturday with a 3-1 loss at Southern California in the first round of the NCAA College Cup.
The Eagles still managed to get in the last word. Trailing 3-0 at intermission, they blanked the Trojans in the second half and got the program’s first postseason goal, a header in the 59th minute from Devan Talley.
“I’m just really proud of our girls and the fight they put up in the second half today,” EWU coach Chad Bodnar said.
“We could have laid down, but our girls wanted to put up a fight against a pretty good team,” Bodnar said.
Seventh-ranked USC dominated the first half but didn’t break through until the 29th minute on a 22-yard blast from all-Pac-12 midfielder Morgan Andrews that took an unlucky bounce for Eastern goalkeeper Mallory Taylor.
Four minutes later, Andrews converted a penalty kick after a foul in the penalty area.
The Trojans (15-1-1) took a 3-0 lead just 2 minutes before halftime on Nicole Molen’s header.
USC outshot the Eagles 35-8 and twice hit the crossbar as Eastern that made things interesting in the second half.
Talley scored off a set piece that was delivered from fellow sophomore Allison Reniere.
Talley was placed perfectly on the delivery and got behind the USC defense to flick in the header into the far left side of the goal to score.
“USC is a very athletic team and the first 30 to 40 minutes we watched a lot of players run around us. We made some adjustments at half and we fought and found a goal, which was great,” Bodnar said.
The Eagles almost got even closer. Five minutes after Talley’s goal, EWU forward Chloe Williams was denied by all-Pac-12 goalie Sammy Jo Prodhomme.
Williams ends the season with 36 points and 15 goals. Both are single-season records at Eastern Washington.
Taylor finished her career with a career-high 11 saves to drive her total to 154, second most in school history.
“It’s awesome to know that we are the first team at Eastern to win the Big Sky and make the NCAA tournament,” Taylor said. “This is a huge milestone for us and this program. I know the team will be hungry to back here next season.”
That team will return all but five players.
“It’s been great,” Bodnar said, looking back on a 13-5-4 season. “These kids work hard and they do what they’re asked. … We want to continue to push the program forward and we took some pretty big steps this season.”
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