Soccer heads to LA for two ranked opponents

Cougars set to face toughest weekend yet; play No. 5 UCLA, No. 19 USC



Senior midfielder Sydney Pulver dribbles the ball up the pitch as she looks for teammates.

DAYLON HICKS, Evergreen reporter

The No. 21 WSU soccer team will head down to southern California to face the No. 5 UCLA Bruins on Friday and the No. 19 USC Trojans on Sunday.

This will be the Cougars’ toughest doubleheader so far this season, as the two squads have a combined record of 12-4-2 and are both nationally ranked, according to Top Drawer Soccer.

The Cougars are coming off of a big win over the Colorado Buffaloes last Saturday, in which senior midfielder Makamae Gomera-Stevens scored a game-winning goal in overtime to win 1-0.

The defense for the Cougars came up big again led by senior goalkeeper Marissa Zucchetto. The Ontario-native tallied a season-high five saves, which included two late in regulation. That was WSU’s fourth shutout of the season, as they have only allowed four goals in their seven games.

Colorado’s defense proved to be just as crucial with WSU putting eight shots on goal before Gomera-Stevens finally sent everyone home in overtime.

With their win over Colorado, the Cougars put themselves back in the mix in the Pac-12 by jumping to fourth in points per game and having yet to give up a goal in Pac-12 play by posting a pair of shutouts in two overtimes.

Senior forward Elyse Bennett has been the player to watch so far this season for WSU. Bennett leads the team with five goals and 11 points.

The Cougars fell a season ago to the Bruins 2-1, which snapped a two-game win streak against UCLA. WSU has never fared well against the Bruins with a record of 5-18-3 since 1993. When on the road, the Cougars are just 2-11-2.

UCLA fell from the ranks of the unbeaten last week with a 2-1 overtime loss to Arizona State. The Bruins are 8-1-1 on the season and sit atop the Pac-12 standings with 2.5 points per game and allowing seven goals in their 10 games.

After their match Friday in Beverley Hills, WSU will head downtown to face the USC Trojans on Sunday. USC has a 15-7-3 advantage over WSU since 1995, with their last matchup resulting in a 3-0 Trojan win in October 2019.

The Cougars dropped their last six straight matches to USC and have an away record of 2-10-2.

USC sits seventh overall in the Pac-12 standings with a 4-3-1 record and 1.5 points per game. Two of USC’s three losses came against Utah and Colorado, both teams in which the Cougars have already defeated this season.

WSU has struggled with COVID-19 complications this season with the team having to cancel four consecutive games against Arizona State, Arizona, Cal and Stanford. The cancelations forced the team to go on an 18-day game drought from early to mid-March

Don’t miss WSU’s soccer team in action this weekend against UCLA at 6 p.m. Friday and USC at 12 p.m. Sunday. The matches against UCLA and USC will both be live on the Pac-12 Network.