Hometown showdown: WSU soccer comes home for a two-game stand

Washington State’s women’s soccer team will continue to build on its increasingly potent attack as it takes on Oklahoma State and Cal State Fullerton in home matches today and Sunday, respectively.

The Oklahoma State Cowgirls (2-3-0) will feature the strongest attack the Cougars (4-0-0) have seen so far this season. WSU Head Coach Todd Shulenberger said he knows the challenge ahead and believes his side can handle whatever OSU shoots the Cougars’ way.

“What a great team. Colin (Carmichael) is again a great coach, another NCAA tournament team,” Shulenberger said during his press conference Tuesday. “This will be our third in five games coming out of the gate. I’m expecting a big crowd – we’re getting out in the community. I know there’s a lot of things going on this weekend. People are in town so we’re hoping for the best there.”

WSU has scored three goals over the last two matches after scoring six in its two season-opening contests. Shulenberger said his team is talented up front, but the attacking style of OSU could put the Cougar defensive line on its heels early.

“(Shulenberger) told us they’re super aggressive when they are attacking and they have really good forwards,” sophomore defender Jordan Branch said Tuesday. “It makes you want to play safer. You want to hold back a little bit, but you can’t.”

Three of the Cowgirls’ nine goals have come from sophomore midfielder Holly Brehmer in just 99 minutes. OSU comes into its match with WSU outshooting the Cougars 89-65 in total shots, but only 39-30 in shots on goal. For the Cougs to have success against the Cowgirls, they will need to control the game through possession.

A fair number of goals scored by the Cougars this season have come off balls played into the attacking third from the midfield. Sophomore midfielder Chelsea Harkins believes that success is a culmination of time and training spent over the years, and Shulenberger’s style of play.

“I think both factor into it because obviously we play against each other all the time,” Harkins said. “We know where certain players like to receive the ball . . . It comes with a lot of repetition and things that we do. So we focus on playing with quality passes and making sure we are playing it where we need to to score goals.”

Cal State Fullerton (6-0-0) will be another stout opponent for the Cougars, as the Titans are currently undefeated, pending their came today in Spokane against Gonzaga. Shulenberger acknowledged CSF as quality opponent, but said OSU is the only team on his and his players’ minds right now.

“There’s not a lot of teams left in the country undefeated. They have to play a tough Gonzaga team Friday and then drive over here Sunday,” Shulenberger said. “But right now it’s all about Oklahoma State.”

Today’s match against Oklahoma State will air on the Pac-12 Network and kickoff at 7 p.m. at the Lower Soccer Field. On Sunday, the Cougars kickoff at noon against Cal State Fullerton, and the game will stream live on WSUCougars.com.