Soccer to take on top-ranked Bruins and thriving Trojans

Play UCLA Thursday then USC Sunday in Los Angeles



WSU forward Aniah Cutler shoots on a goal during an NCAA soccer match against Arizona State, Oct. 20.

JAKE HULL, Evergreen reporter

WSU soccer will play two must-win games this weekend against No. 2 UCLA Thursday and No. 21 ranked USC Sunday in hopes their offensive slump does not becomes a landslide.

These games in Los Angeles will be their last two away games of the regular season. 

They start the road trip by taking on the UCLA Bruins on Thursday, then travel to take on the USC Trojans, who are third in the Pac-12.

The Cougs (8-4-4) are coming off a three-game homestand where they lost one game and tied two. Their 2-0 loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils was their first home loss of the season. 

“The message across the board is stay positive,” head coach Todd Shulenberger said. 

They only have one home game left against the Washington Huskies next week.

Their two ties were a 1-1 tie with the Oregon Ducks and a 0-0 tie with the Arizona Wildcats.

The Cougs are third in the nation in total shots with 350 and on-target shots per game with 21.88. However, they only have 27 goals on the season, which is sixth in the Pac-12. 

All-time the Cougs are 5-19-4 against UCLA. Their last matchup was October 2021 which was a 1-1 tie. The first matchup between these teams was in 1993 when WSU won 4-2. UCLA is undefeated against the Cougs in the last three games.

On the season, the Bruins are 15-1. They started their season with a 1-0 victory against Iowa. They then defeated Cal State Northridge 6-0 and Santa Clara 1-0. 

The Bruins then had three straight games where they gave up a goal each game but scored a combined nine goals in the three games to keep their record perfect. 

Their first conference game of the season was a 4-2 victory over Cal. Then the Bruins took down the Oregon Ducks 3-1. After three straight defensive shutouts in the conference, they lost their only game of the season to Stanford. The score was 1-0. 

After the loss, the Bruins defeated Colorado 6-0 and Utah 3-0 to set up the matchup against the Cougs. 

The Bruins are led by Sunshine Fontes and Reilyn Turner. They both have nine goals on the season. Fontes has five assists on the season as well. Lexi Wright and Ally Lemos also have five assists so far. 

Defensively, the Bruins goalie Lauren Brzykcy has appeared in all 16 games the Bruins have played this season. Brzykcy has allowed seven goals and saved 37 shots. Her seven goals allowed on the season are the lowest in the conference for total goals allowed. 

Against the USC Trojans, WSU is 5-9-3 all-time. The most recent matchup was in October 2021 where the game ended in a 0-0 tie. The first matchup was a 2-1 loss in 2000. The Cougs have not beaten the Trojans since 2013. 

On the season the Trojans are 9-2-3. They have a 5-1-2 conference record, which is third-best in the Pac-12. Their first game of the season was a 3-0 loss against Purdue. They then went on a three-game winning streak, defeating Long Beach State, TCU and Cal State Northridge. These games were all clean sheets for the Trojans. 

Their first tie came next against Nebraska by a score of 1-1. They then took a two-game winning streak heading into conference play where they won their first three games. They defeated Stanford, Oregon State and Oregon.

The first conference loss for USC came against Arizona by a score of 1-0. The Trojans bounced back, however, and defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils 2-1. After a 2-0 victory against Cal, the Trojans had two straight ties against both Colorado and Utah. 

They will take on the Washington Huskies Thursday before hosting the Cougs.

The Trojans are led by Croix Bethune, Simone Jackson and Aaliyah Farmer. Bethune leads the team with seven goals and eight assists. Her eight assists are first in the Pac-12. Jackson has five goals on the season. Farmer has four goals this season. Helena Sampaio has six assists for the Trojans, which is tied for third in the conference. 

Defensively, Trojan goalie Anna Smith has appeared in 14 games. She has 41 saves and allowed nine goals on the season. Her nine goals allowed are tied for second in the Pac-12. 

WSU midfielder MacKenzie Frimpong-Ellertson dribbles the ball during an NCAA soccer match against Arizona, Oct. 23.

If the Cougs want to get results this weekend they need to be more effective when they shoot. They shoot a lot of goals during the game but need to be more clinical to take quality shots that create chances to score.

After Los Angeles, the Cougs head home as they host the Washington Huskies for the installment of the Apple Cup in Pullman. This will be the Cougs’ last game of the regular season. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Lower Soccer Field.