Photo Credit: WSU Cougars
Despite having the ball for the majority of the second overtime, Washington State was unable to convert its opportunities to score and they opened up the recently renovated Lower Soccer Field with a 0-0 draw against No. 19 Minnesota. The Cougars offense was unable to convert on several opportunities, especially down the stretch, to score against an aggress Gopher’s defense.
Sophomore forward Morgan Weaver managed to create space against a pair of Minnesota defenders in the 110th minute, but her shot was just to the right of the goal. It was the second to last shot on goal WSU would take — Elyse Bennett took a shot as time expired, but it was easily blocked from the net — and it was the Cougars best chance in the second overtime to upset No. 19 Minnesota.
The Cougar offense seemed lost at times in the second half as they attempted to run plays, especially in the first overtime. In the 96th minute, Washington State’s offense was looking towards the bench for signals as a pass from backline sailed into towards the offense, WSU was slow to respond to it and Minnesota was able to take possession of the ball. Which quickly turned into a golden opportunity for the Golden Gophers, but both of their shots missed the net.
Washington State’s offensive struggles were pronounced in the second overtime when the Cougs were unable to press the numbers advantage in the 102nd minute and the Gophers were able to force the ball out of bounds on two separate occasions. A missed one-on-one opportunity in the 105th minute, thanks to a bad hop off of the grass, was a sign of just how poorly the night was going offensively for the Cougars.
While WSU’s offense struggled to take control of the ball throughout the second half (and over time), it’s defense was lights out as the Gophers were very rarely able to get into the goalie’s box. Because of the defense, the Gophers started taking shots from deep at the net, but Dederick was too good throughout the game and they were unable to convert on their opportunities. The high frequency these deep shots shows how effective the Cougars were at shutting down Minnesota inside the box, and that bodes well going forward.
In the 79th minute, Minnesota had a corner kick which quickly turned into a shot on goal that bounced off of a Washington State defender…right to another Gopher, who quickly fired off another shot on goal. The Cougar defense was successfully able to knock the shot away and clear it from the box.
The one time the defense broke down was in April Bockin managed to break free of the Washington State defense and was running free towards the net. Fortunately for the Cougars, her shot was well off from the net as she rushed it and Washington State quickly moved the ball back down field, leaving the majority of the Gophers’ behind and three Cougars in the box against Sharp and a defender.
Sharp aggressively left the net to break up the pass but struggled to initially corral the ball and it looked like WSU would be able to get a shot on an empty goal. Minnesota’s goalkeeper got a finger on the and slowed it down enough for her to pull the ball in, which killed Washington State’s final opportunity in regulation.
While Minnesota dominated the second half, the Cougs biggest opportunity would involve sophomore Morgan Weaver. Washington State’s defense cleared the ball down field to Makamae Gomera-Stevens who took the ball all the way towards the corner of the net. Gomera-Stevens would find Weaver one-on-one, whom she passed the ball off to; unfortunately for the Cougs, Weaver’s shot was off the mark and sailed onto the berm behind the net.
Abrecht managed to create some space with a foot fake to her left, then she broke right to take a shot. Fortunately for the Cougars this shot was just to the right of the net and they survived the aggressive offensive attack by Minnesota.
Washington State’s best opportunity in the first half came when Morgan Weaver hit the post in the 20th minute, but the ball bounced clear of the net and Minnesota was able to clear it. The sophomore had created space from the Gopher’s defenders by shifting the ball to her left, but the Cougs would get another chance a few minutes later but that feeble shot was easily scooped by Sharp.
The Cougs defense was under constant barrage throughout the first half as the Golden Gophers regularly had possession on WSU’s side of the pitch. While Ella Diedrick was constantly under pressure, she only had one save in the first half and that’s because her defense did a fantastic job of keeping the ball away from the net — the No. 19 Gophers had five shots on goal and four corner kicks in the first half.
One of the Golden Gophers’ best opportunities in the first half came in the 34th minute as they were able to get the ball right up against the corner of the net, but an aggressive tackle forced the ball out to the corner and Minnesota had to redeploy its offense and they weren’t able to get the ball anywhere near the net before WSU cleared the ball from its end of the pitch.