BENJAMIN MICHAELIS | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
It will be a busy weekend for WSU Athletics in Pullman, but an even busier one for the Cougar Women’s soccer team. The Cougars (1-0-0) will play the Montana Grizzlies (0-0-2) in a regional non-conference game for their first home match of the season at 7 p.m. Friday at the Lower Soccer Field.
The Cougars have not lost a home non-conference match since 2016 to BYU.
Recently ranked No. 13 by TopDrawerSoccer.com, their first season win was last week in Seattle against Seattle University. They started the season off strong with a 4-0 shutout.
As the Grizzlies prepare their drive over to Pullman, Head Coach Todd Shulenberger said he plans to be fluent in the attack and is looking to create more opportunities to do what Washington State does best.
“It should be a packed house here … I would expect two to three thousand people here excited about just opening up the fall season for both soccer and football,” Shulenberger said.
The Cougars will not be shy using star senior forward Morgan Weaver and junior defender Brianna Alger who was recently named Pac-12 defensive player of the week for the first time in her soccer career.
Montana will also be ready with leading star juniors Alexa Coyle and Kennedy Yost, alongside junior goalkeeper Claire Howard who had 10 shutouts last season.
“We know each other pretty well, and they will be ready for sure. But I rest assured the Cougars will be ready to go as well,” said Shulenberger in a press conference Tuesday morning.
The team hopes to score some more goals and encourages everyone to come out and look, Shulenberger said.
The atmosphere Friday night will be tense and warm in Pullman at 86 degrees as the rematch as the first round of the 2018 NCAA tournament takes place.
Montana most recently settled for a 1-1 draw against North Dakota State with 22 shots on goal.
The Cougars will look to keep their season winning streak in the comfort of their home stadium, but Montana will put up a fight.
While the two teams are not in the same conference, the rivalry is fierce. The last time the Cougars played the Grizzlies was in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament in November with a 5-1 performance, sending Montana out of the tournament early.
With 754 in attendance, the Cougars controlled the game from the first whistle. They fired 33 shots overall in the match while the Grizzlies shot only six.
As a 1-0 score at half time, then-sophomore forward Brianna Alger fired the first goal at the 36’. With 11 shots on goal, then-junior Morgan Weaver began the wave. She scored the second goal of the match and eventually, three of her fellow teammates followed suit.
However, then-redshirt freshman Kennedy Yost kept the Cougars from a shutout as she scored the final goal of the game in the 85’ for the Grizzlies.
While the goal may have been late in the match, it made history as the third goal for Montana’s soccer program to ever be scored in an NCAA tournament. It joined alongside Montana’s Heidi Melville’s goal in 1999 against Texas A&M. It was the only goal scored that weekend against a top-five team in the Pac-12 in the 2018 NCAA tournament.
The Cougars will also play JMU at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the Lower Soccer Field.