Cougar soccer ends historic season

UNC head coach Anson Dorrance said WSU outplayed the Tar Heels

JACLYN SEIFERT, Evergreen reporter

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SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA— Sometimes the winners in sports are not always the one on the podium. This historic team walked off the field with their heads held high and holding more than just their records this season. 

It was a bittersweet run for the WSU Cougar women’s soccer team as they fought until the final whistle against No. 2 ranked University of North Carolina Tar Heels losing 2-1 Friday afternoon in San Jose, California. 

“I don’t know the Washington State players by their numbers, but I know them by their passion,” Tar Heels head coach Anson Dorrance said. “They played a wonderfully passionate game that made it very difficult for us.” 

The Cougars (16-7-1, 5-5-1) outshot the Tar Heels (24-1-1, 9-0-1) 10-8. Additionally, WSU had seven corner kicks and 15 fouls while UNC had only two corner kicks and 11 fouls during the game.

Cougar fans cheered for their team loudly from the kickoff inside Avaya Stadium. Their team came into the tournament unranked and unseeded to finish in the NCAA College Cup for the first time in program history.

There have not been many different programs that reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament and even fewer who have advanced to the Final Four. Since 2007, the Cougars are the fourth team to make it to the College Cup after making it to the Elite Eight for the first time.

UNC is the only team in the country to have played in all 38 NCAA tournaments and has a 136-14-4 record, with four second-place finishes and three third-place finishes.

“Obviously, I didn’t want it to be my last game, but I just wanted to go out with these girls,” All-American senior forward Morgan Weaver said. “I wouldn’t have traded this run we’ve had for the world.” 

Weaver came out aggressive and scored for the Cougars seven minutes into the game. 

The goal started from the backfield. Graduate student goalkeeper Ella Dederick kicked the ball down the field to where junior forward Elyse Bennett and graduate student midfielder Averie Collins found Weaver. Then she dribbled around and through three different UNC defenders to catch Tar Heels sophomore goalkeeper Claudia Dickey off her line. 

Weaver finished this season in her number six crimson jersey with 15 goals and 43 career goals, the second most in Cougar program history.

She said the goal would not have happened without hearing teammates behind her.

“It sucks that we lost, but the amount of hard work that we’ve put in this season and the history we’ve made, you can’t be sad about it,” Weaver said.  “We’ve accomplished things that nobody has done before in Coug history.”

This season WSU defeated No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams to reach the Final Four. They beat the SEC tournament champions, ACC regular-season champions and ACC tournament runner-up.

The Tar Heels then found the back of the net twice against the Cougars later in the half, after two back-to-back set plays to make the score 2-1. 

Those two goals were enough for UNC to win the match. Despite the disadvantage, the Cougars battled and slid through tackles until the clock expired. 

Dorrance said he feels lucky to be in the finals.

“Honestly, if you look at the chances created, they created better chances then we did,” said Dorrance. “It was an extraordinary run for them.”

This season, the Cougars became the highest-ranking team with the longest postseason run in any sport at WSU this decade. 

“From player one to 28, every single person did their job,” Weaver said.

Shculenberger said he is excited about the future.

“The table is set, and I said the other day that we can use this 2019 season into 2020,” Shulenberger said. “These girls have earned it and this program has earned it. We’re excited about our future and what’s ahead for Washington State soccer.”