Cougars make it to the second round of NCAA

Junior midfielder makes second half goal against Memphis



Junior forward Makameae Gomera-Stevens, right, celebrates her goal against Memphis on Nov. 15 at the Lower Soccer Field.

JACLYN SEIFERT, Evergreen reporter

It was a packed house on a rainy night on the Lower Soccer Field as No. 24 WSU soccer beat the University of Memphis Tigers 1-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This was the Cougars third-straight season advancing to the second round.

“The Pac-12 season and this conference definitely prepared us for tonight,” head coach Todd Shulenberger said. “Super proud of our group, that’s an excellent Memphis team.”

This was the first time the two programs played each other. WSU made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament eight of the last nine seasons.

After this weekend, only 32 teams will be left in the NCAA tournament.

After 12 shots, six shots on goal and eight corner kicks, junior midfielder Makamae Gomera-Stevens scored for the Cougars in the second half to make the score 1-0. This was her first NCAA Tournament goal.

“Myself and the team are really excited to make it to the second round,” Gomera-Stevens said.

The goal came after graduate student Averie Collins passed the ball along at the top of the 18-yard box where Gomera-Stevens found the left side-netting of the goal.

“Averie obviously beat her player and I found myself wide open so I just called for the ball and touched it in and scored,” Gomera-Stevens said.

Memphis junior forward Clarissa Larisey, who scored 16 goals this season, did not have a single shot on goal during the match.

She was named the American Athletic Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year and named to the first team. Larisey is tied for sixth in the country for goals scored. She additionally leads her team this season in shots and shots on goal.

“We knew that their biggest strength was their number 17,” Shulenberger said.

“She’s a great player, 16 goals, but we see that everyday, so I don’t want to say we had specifics on her, we were more concerned about the shape,” Shulenberger said.

In the first half, the Cougars challenged the Tigers defense with nine shots, four shots on goal and three corner kicks. Memphis had one shot in the first half, leaving graduate student goalkeeper Ella Dederick with no action.

Within the first three minutes of the match, Washington State has three shot attempts that were stopped by the Tiger defense.

Senior forward Morgan Weaver had a chance from a through ball, but it was the Tigers junior goalkeeper Elizabeth Moberg who made two back to back saves to keep the score 0-0.

In the 16 minute, junior midfielder Makamae Gomera-Stevens had a noteworthy shot on goal. She dribbled around three Memphis defenders to slot the ball to the left side of the goal, but Moberg stopped it with her right foot.

With only six minutes left in the first half, Tigers sophomore defender Kimberley Smit received a yellow card after she tripped WSU sophomore forward Molly Myers on a breakaway.

At half time, Shulenberger said he told his team to stay positive and to not get counted.

Both teams were eager for a goal at the start of the second half and the rain made the field slick.

In the 63 minute, Myers received a through ball at midfield. Then, it was Myers and Moberg  one v. one where the Tigers goalkeeper made the stop. Myers again had another attempt to score seconds later where she just missed the right side of the goal.

Only minutes later, the Tigers just missed the back of the net hitting the post to keep the score 1-0.

As each minute ticked down to the final whistle for the Cougars, the Tigers gave their best effort as they made a number of dangerous attempts on the WSU defense.

Shulenberger said he told his team at halftime winning is hard and to not take this moment for granted, but he is proud of his team’s performance.

“We really wanted to win for each other,” Gomera-Stevens said.

Washington State will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia for the second round of the NCAA Tournament against No. 3 and No. 1 seed University of Virginia Friday. The time and location of the match are to be determined.

“Soccer is crazy and anything can happen,” Shulenberger said.