Cougars host Eastern this weekend

WSU comes in 0-0-1 with draw in record-breaking season opener; Eagles enter match at 0-2-0



WSU’s Grayson Lynch attempts a cross against Arkansas State’s Hannah Maupin in a Aug. 19 1-1 draw on the Lower Soccer Field.

ERIN MULLINS, Evergreen reporter

WSU soccer will be hosting Eastern Washington at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Lower Soccer Field. WSU last hosted Eastern on Feb. 12 where they commanded a decisive 4-1 victory against the Eagles.

The match, originally scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, was rescheduled on Wednesday after both teams agreed to the change.

WSU ended the 2021 spring season with an overall record of 6-3-3 and 2-2-3 in the Pac-12 Conference. This season, WSU has played two matches, opening against the Idaho Vandals in an exhibition match.

After that, the Cougars tied Arkansas State 1-1 in front of a crowd of 3,147 on Aug. 19, breaking the all-time record for attendance at the Lower Soccer Field. WSU head coach Todd Shulenberger said he was grateful for all the support at the last match.

“That’s what college athletics is supposed to be about,” he said. “That’s what Pullman, Washington, is about. We’ve had great success here, and the crowd came out to support us thanks to our athletic department, our marketing crew. Everybody had a hand in that.”

WSU was aggressive throughout the match and managed to take 39 shots, which ranks as the fourth most shots in program history. Despite the many attempts, Arkansas State goalkeeper Megan McClure stopped almost every shot the Cougars attempted.

“We got down a lot against Arkansas State,” Shulenberger said. “Again, let’s face it, that keeper was unbelievable. All-Conference player and one of the top goalkeepers in America. Now we gotta put the ball in the net.”

Despite the draw, Shulenberger is confident. He said the team is in a good place even with what happened Friday night; they are high-energy and looking forward to winning on Saturday. The team will focus on scoring goals and being more confident.

Shulenberger said the team is taking things match by match and looking to get better. The team is working to solidify what they can do to get better and what they need to focus on to be ready for Pac-12 play, including scoring goals and being more confident in front of goal.

Preseason training was the “normal grind,” Shulenberger said.  The Cougars have been working on their offense, defense, relationships, positions, formation and chemistry on and off the field.

The Cougars have a commanding streak of results against the Eagles, having won all of the six total matches they have played against them since 1998. Eastern has a 0-2-0 record this season.

The Eagles lost to Gonzaga 4-0 at their opening match on Aug. 19 in Spokane. They suffered another loss against Arkansas State, losing 1-0 on home turf on Aug. 21.  Eastern goalkeeper Kelsee Winston recorded 16 saves and played a full 90 minutes in both matches for the Eagles.

Junior defender Jordyn King was also a significant factor for Eastern and played every minute of both matches. Meanwhile, junior defender Janae Lee played 176 minutes for the Eagles while sophomore midfielder Madison Kem played 170 minutes.

The Cougars have some talented players of their own. Last year, three players earned All-Pac-12 honors. Makamae Gomera-Stevens earned second-team honors while Elyse Bennett and Mykiaa Minniss earned third-team honors. Both Bennett and Minniss returned to play for the Cougars this season.

Shulenberger has confidence in his team. He said that while the most consistent players have been the older ones, he has been impressed with about 16 players so far during the first two matches of the season.

“I like our depth. I like the rotations right now,” he said. “It’s just figuring out what each player needs to do to perform at the highest level. But I think on the whole we have all been good.”

Don’t miss the Cougar soccer team in action this weekend. The match can be watched in person or live on the Pac-12 website. Live stats can be found on StatBroadcast.