No. 19 Cougs face No. 2 USC

WSU is on two game slide halfway through conference play, Trojans have only lost one



Redshirt junior forward Alysha Overland steps in to beat Oregon’s sophomore defender Mia Palmer to the ball on Sept. 27 at the Lower Soccer Field. Overland has scored two goals on nine shots this season.

JOHN SPELLMAN, Evergreen reporter

Every team has ups and downs during the season, but the key is to recover from downs as quick as possible. After a tough road trip for No. 19 WSU soccer, the Cougs have an amazing opportunity to do just that against No. 2 University of Southern California at the Lower Soccer Field on Saturday.

There is a saying in sports that goes, “You learn the most about your team when things don’t go your way.”

After tough losses on the road to the University of Colorado Boulder and University of Utah, Head Coach Todd Shulenberger has learned a lot about his team.

“We are back from a tough road trip, but we are looking to get back on track on Saturday night against USC … the ball just didn’t roll our way on Thursday [against Colorado],” Shulenberger said. “I have no problem in saying we lost, but we were the better team.”

The Cougs look to get back on a winning streak for what looks to be one of their biggest challenges of the season against the Trojans.

USC comes into Pullman with an 11-1-1 record on the year, with its one loss against No. 1 Stanford University.

“They are very good at getting possession and crossing lines … they got some strong attackers, their forwards are really balanced and I think they have one of the best goalkeepers, so they are set up,” Shulenberger said.

The potent USC offense is led by the trio of senior forward Leah Pruitt, redshirt sophomore midfielder Savannah DeMelo and freshman forward Penelope Hocking, who have combined for 18 goals on the season.

The WSU defense, led by redshirt junior goalkeeper Rachel Thompson, will need to come up with some big stops in order to pull off what would be a major upset victory.

However, the Cougs will also have a challenging time scoring goals against USC as the Trojans come into the match with the sixth-lowest goals against average in the country. The Trojan goal is anchored down by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Kaylie Collins, who has had an impressive start to her season.

She comes in with five goals given up on the season so far, with the most given up in a single game being two. However, the WSU offense looks primed to score some goals against one of the top defenses in the nation.

WSU junior forward Morgan Weaver leads the team with seven goals so far, and senior defender Maddy Haro leads the team with 10 assists. Haro is also second in the nation in assists.

The Cougs are looking for their first victory against USC since 2013, and they know they have a tall task ahead of them. However, Shulenberger said they are ready for this highly-anticipated Pac-12 matchup.

“We go out to each game expecting to win, that’s our motto here,” Shulenberger said. “It doesn’t matter who it is, it could be USC or someone next door. Our goal is to go out and play the best soccer to get the result.”

Cougar soccer takes on the Trojans starting at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Lower Soccer Field. The game will also be available on the WSU live stream.