Cougar soccer makes her-story

WSU faces No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels in Final Four matchup for College Cup

Junior+forward+Makameae+Gomera-Stevens%2C+right%2C+celebrates+her+goal+against+Memphis+on+Nov.+15+at+the+Lower+Soccer+Field.+
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Cougar soccer makes her-story

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

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

KYLE COX | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

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

KYLE COX | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

KYLE COX | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

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

JACLYN SEIFERT, Evergreen reporter

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Unranked and unseeded WSU women’s soccer team will continue its historic run against No. 1 seed University of North Carolina Tar Heels at 4 p.m. on Friday at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California.

One week ago, WSU (16-6-1, 5-5-1) did the unthinkable.

Only a handful of soccer programs have ever made it to the College Cup in the NCAA Tournament. Yet the Cougars did just that, after they became the highest-ranking team with the longest postseason run in any sport at WSU this decade.

“Exciting times here for Coug soccer obviously, and the girls have earned every bit of this,” head coach Todd Shulenberger said.

“It’s just crazy. I don’t think any of us expected to go this far and now that we are here, it is just amazing to feel this,” sophomore defender Mykiaa Minniss said.

Minniss scored the most important goal of her career in overtime for the Cougars. She scored to upset No. 2 seed University of South Carolina (19-2-3, 7-0-3) to advance the team.

This season, WSU took down No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams to reach the final four. They beat the Southeastern Conference tournament champions, Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season champions and the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament runner-up.

“Confident, hungry and we’ve got a ton of swagger right now, which I think is a good thing whether we are the underdog or not,” Shulenberger said.

With a record of 135-14-4 and a winning percentage of 89.5 percent, North Carolina (23-1-1, 9-0-1) is the only school in the country to play in all 38 NCAA Tournaments. They have won 21 NCAA championships. They finished second four times and third place three times.

The Cougars will head into Friday alongside Stanford, University of California, Los Angeles, and UNC. Shulenberger said he heads to San Jose humbly, to stand alongside three head coaches who have all already won the coveted national title.

Senior forward All-American Morgan Weaver was named to the 2019 United States Coaches NCAA Division 1 Women’s All-Pacific Region first team alongside junior defender Brianna Alger who was named to the third team.

Weaver leads her team with 14 goals this season and 42 goals in her career. She also leads the Cougars with 123 shots and 57 shots on goal.

The Tar Heels junior forward Alessia Russo leads her team with 12 goals, 76 shots, 39 shots on goal, and six game-winning goals this season. Russo is in the running, alongside two of her teammates, for the MAC Hermann trophy. Awarded annually since 1967, it is the most coveted individual honor that a player can receive in NCAA division one soccer.

UNC freshman defender Maycee Bell, junior defender Emily Fox and sophomore midfielder Brianna Pinto were recently called up to the 2019 U.S Women’s National Team Camp Dec. 9-14 in Bradenton, Florida.

“I am really exciting, but I am always just telling myself it is just another game,” junior forward Makamae Gomera-Stevens said. “Even though we are making history for the school I think it’s important to remind myself that there is still business that needs to be taken care of on Friday to hopefully make it to Sunday.”