Round two: Cougar soccer faces Tennessee

With a win, WSU would advance to third round of NCAA tournament for first time in program history


ABBY LINNENKOHL | Daily Evergreen File

WSU Freshman defender Aaqila Mclyn dribbles the ball through University of Southern California’s defense in a game Oct. 22.

RYAN BLAKE, Evergreen reporter

WSU soccer (10-7-3) takes on No. 20 University of Tennessee (15-4-1) in their second match of the NCAA Tournament.

The Cougars made it to the second round for the fourth time in program history. They have reached the playoffs eight times in the past 10 seasons, but have never made it past the second round.

The team did so after upsetting No. 8 University of Central Florida 1-0 last Saturday. An early own goal got WSU on the board. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Ella Dederick secured the lead by posting six saves and holding the Knights scoreless for her 10th shutout this season. She now has 217 saves in her career.

Soccer Head Coach Todd Shulenberger said he is not surprised his team pulled off the upset, but thinks they can improve heading into their next game.

“We got to do a better job in our possession,” Shulenberger said. “Our defending overall has been great, our goalkeeping has been great. I’d like to keep the ball a little more against this Tennessee team. I think that will hopefully translate into another ‘W.’ ”

WSU’s roster features 13 freshmen, many of whom play key roles on the team. Shulenberger said he’s confident in his side despite their youth.

“They got thrown right to the wolves right away,” Shulenberger said. “They’ve played ample minutes in the number one conference in America in the Pac-12. They’ve grown for that. I don’t consider them freshmen anymore. They’ve got some minutes under their belt, and we’re happy to see their progress.”

Tennessee enters the weekend ranked No. 20 in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll. The Volunteers defeated Murray State 2-0 on two late goals to secure a spot in the second round for the first time since 2007.

Junior forward Khadija Shaw leads the Vols offensively. A transfer student from Eastern Florida State College and hailing from Spanish Town, Jamaica, Shaw’s 14 goals are tied for 10th in the country.

Saturday’s first-round win against UCF was the first postseason victory for WSU since defeating the University of Kentucky 1-1 on penalty kicks in 2011. The Cougars hold a 3-8-3 all-time postseason record.

The winner of Friday’s game will advance to the third round to face either University of Florida or University of South Florida. That game will be played 2 p.m. Sunday.

The match is set to start at 11 a.m. Friday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will be livestreamed on the SEC Network+ and is available on WatchESPN.