Soccer hosts toughest opponents of season

No. 5 USC, No. 8 UCLA visit Pullman for weekend matches

ERIN MULLINS, Evergreen reporter

WSU soccer is set to play two nationally-ranked teams this week. They will be playing No. 5 USC at 7 p.m. Thursday and No. 8 UCLA at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Lower Soccer Field.

The matchups mark the last two home matches of the season. WSU enters the week ranked third in the Pac-12.

“It’s a huge weekend from all aspects,” head coach Todd Shulenberger said. “Pac-12 standings, it’s a huge weekend for RPI [ratings percentile index]. It’s a huge weekend for resume-building for the NCAA tournaments. And we have two good teams starting on Thursday night.” 

WSU currently has a 10-2-2 record overall and a 4-1-1 conference record. During the USC match, the players will be wearing pink for breast cancer awareness, and the UCLA match will be senior night, where the seniors will be honored for their accomplishments. 

The last match for the Cougars was a 2-2 double-overtime tie with Arizona State. The Cougars dominated at the beginning of the match, scoring two goals in the first 30 minutes, but Arizona quickly rebounded, and the match ended without a victory.

USC has a winning 16-7-3 record against WSU and currently has a seven-match win streak against the Cougars. Their last match was a 1-0 win over WSU in April. Midway through that match, the Cougars appeared to be in control and hit USC with a barrage of shots. But that was not enough to win the match as the Trojans took control at the end of the match. 

USC currently has an 11-2 overall record and remains undefeated in conference play with a 6-0 record. USC is ranked atop in the Pac-12. Their last match was a 3-1 win against Oregon, which marked their 11th straight victory. The two teams were tied halfway through the match, but USC scored two goals in the second half. 

Before that, the Trojans pulled off a dominant 7-0 win over Utah. The seven goals were the most the Trojans put up since their record 9-0 win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2014. Although the opening strike did not happen until the 38th minute, the Trojans took control in the second half of the match with a blitz of scoring.

UCLA also has the upper hand against the Cougars with a 19-5-3 record and a two-match win streak. In their last match against WSU, UCLA dominated with a 4-0 win. That match started off scoreless for the first half of the match before the Bruins began to dominate the first minute into the second half of the match.

The Bruins currently have a 12-0-2 overall record and a 4-0-2 conference record. They are ranked second in the Pac-12. Before playing the Cougars, UCLA will play WSU’s cross-state rival, Washington, in Seattle. 

UCLA’s last match was a solid 4-1 win over Oregon State, which marked their 20th unbeaten match. The first goal came just nine minutes into the match and led 3-0 at halftime. Although the Beavers managed one shot in the second half, it was not enough to defeat the Bruins.

Before that, UCLA won in double overtime 2-1 against Colorado. UCLA scored the first shot 27 minutes into the match but the Buffs responded with a goal in the 74th minute. Finally, four minutes before the end of double overtime, the Bruins managed another goal and won the match. 

Do not miss out on the Cougar action. The matches can be seen in person at the Lower Soccer Field and online through the Pac-12 Network.