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Soccer upsets No. 2 UCLA, prepares for No. 6 USC

After taking down the Bruins with a defensive shutout, the Cougars focus their attention toward the Trojans

Freshman+defender+Aaqila+McLyn+battles+with+UCLA+over+possession+of+the+ball+during+Thursday%27s+match.+WSU+upset+No.+2+UCLA%2C+ruining+the+Bruins%27+undefeated+season.
Freshman defender Aaqila McLyn battles with UCLA over possession of the ball during Thursday's match. WSU upset No. 2 UCLA, ruining the Bruins' undefeated season.

Freshman defender Aaqila McLyn battles with UCLA over possession of the ball during Thursday's match. WSU upset No. 2 UCLA, ruining the Bruins' undefeated season.

ZACH RUBIO | The Daily Evergreen

ZACH RUBIO | The Daily Evergreen

Freshman defender Aaqila McLyn battles with UCLA over possession of the ball during Thursday's match. WSU upset No. 2 UCLA, ruining the Bruins' undefeated season.

RYAN BLAKE, Evergreen reporter

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WSU Soccer (8-5-2, 3-4-0) pulled off an upset by taking down No. 2 University of California, Los Angeles (12-1-2, 5-1-1) yesterday. Cougar offense needed just one goal as the defense shutout the Bruins.

“The win means a lot for this team, for this university,” Head Coach Todd Shulenberger said after last night’s win. “You know I’ve challenged my group now. This is going on year three, and I’ve asked them, you know we need a signature win, we need a big win. We’re good enough. This isn’t a game that we just sat back. We got after them in the first half.”

As WSU celebrates giving an undefeated UCLA team its first loss of the season, the Cougs will quickly shift their attention toward another ranked opponent with No. 6 University of Southern California (12-1-1, 6-0-1) visiting the Palouse on Sunday.

This will be the third straight game Cougar soccer will play against a top-25 team.

Shulenberger said his team had a lot of chances to tie the game against University of California, Berkeley, but just could not get the ball in the back of the net. He said they need to get better at capitalizing on their opportunities in front of goal because they would and will be hard to come by against UCLA and USC.

“It’s different if we’re going back and parking the bus and we’re not,” Shulenberger said. “We’re creating opportunities. We’re going up playing, we’re swinging and one of these is going to get in here.”

Shulenberger put his players in pressure situations, and emphasized managing the ball and the game during practices this week. He said experience under pressure is a valuable for his young team.

The Trojans faced University of Washington on Thursday before coming to Pullman. The defending national champions and sixth ranked team in the country are 10-0-1 in their last 11 contests.

USC Head Coach Keidane McAlpine returns to Pullman for the third time with the Trojans. McAlpine was the head coach at WSU during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, leading the Cougars to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and a program best second place finish in 2013. He is 3-0 against his former school.

Shulenberger said he is aware of the prowess of his opponents this week, but reiterated that his team will continue to play their game. He emphasized that his team always plays to win.

“We’ve got a lot of hunger here, we’ve got a lot to play for here, we’re still in the ball game, and this is how we get better as players and coaches,” Shulenberger said.

Barring a NCAA tournament berth, Sunday’s game will be the last home match for four seniors – midfielder Sofia Anker-Kofoed, defender Jordan Branch, defender Kelsee Crenshaw and midfielder Chelsea Harkins.

“They’ve been great and they’ve really helped me transition this program where we want go,” Shulenberger said.

The Cougars close out the remainder of their 2017 schedule on the road against Arizona State, Arizona and UW.

USC is scheduled to be WSU’s next opponent at 12 p.m. Sunday at the Lower Soccer Field.

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Soccer upsets No. 2 UCLA, prepares for No. 6 USC