Protecting their home turf

Ian Korzeniecki | Evergreen soccer reporter

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A Pac-12 battle will shape up this weekend when the No. 21 Washington State Cougar women’s soccer team faces off with the Arizona schools.

The Arizona Wildcats (8-2-1, 2-1-0) come into Pullman looking for a result after a weekend sweep of the Oregon schools in Tucson

That will be a tall task as WSU (7-1-2, 2-1-0)  beat No. 12 California (9-3, 1-2) last weekend and was tied with No. 3 Stanford (10-0-2, 2-0-1) until the closing minutes of the match.

Head Coach Steve Nugent said he is looking forward to this home stand, but he knows the level of competition will be high.

“This conference is no joke, every weekend you better be ready to go, no matter who it is,” Nugent said.

The Cougars will be playing their first matches on the Lower Soccer Field since Aug. 31, which Nugent said is a needed homecoming.

“It has been a while since August 31,” Nugent said. “I don’t want to overlook how remarkable it has been being away from home for so long and still getting the results we have had. As a whole, those are some fantastic results.”

Arizona features some young talent up front the Cougs will be looking to slow down. Wildcat freshman midfielder Gabi Stoian, who went to the same high school as WSU senior forward Beau Bremer, has eight goals on the season.

It will be up to redshirt sophomore Susie White and the rest of the back four to stop the attacking midfielders of Arizona. White was named a Primetime Performer of the Week by CollegeSoccer360.com for her performance in the Bay Area matches. Look for White to mark Stoian and limit the number of touches she receives.

Don’t be worried that the Cougs are not putting up huge offensive numbers, it has been a scoring by committee this year.

“When you are a team that can win 1-0 and are playing hard the full 90 minutes, you are a team that is tested and ready for the NCAA tournament,” Nugent said. “That is why the Pac-12 is so great, every single weekend you are playing an NCAA tournament quality opponent.”

Two WSU senior leaders have a clear message for Coug fans this weekend.

“We need your support,” senior goalkeeper Gurveen Clair said.

“Come on down this weekend to watch us take on the University of Arizona. Go Cougs,” senior midfielder Nicole Setterlund said with a grin.

Nugent is excited to showcase his team in front of the Coug faithful, once again.

“I am proud to be associated with this program,” Nugent said. “The girls are the ones who get it done. I am proud of them and happy for them. We step out on the field every day to represent this university in the highest fashion we possibly can.”

The Arizona game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks at 2 p.m. The Cougars take on the Arizona State Sun Devils (8-1-3, 1-0-2) at 1 p.m. on Sunday. That game will be available via webcast on wsucougars.com.