Lynch’s late goal leads WSU soccer to a victory over Utah

Grayson Lynch came in clutch for Washington State (8-1-1, 2-0-0) as they knocked off the Utah Utes (5-5-1, 0-2-0) in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday night. It was the Cougar’s fifth straight shut-out win.

Washington State’s first goal of the match came when Lynch was able to find the back of right corner of the net after a beautiful pass in the 78th minute. It was Lynch’s sixth goal of the young season.

The Cougar offense became more aggressive as they clearly wanted to bury Utah under a flurry of late goals. Utah’s offense has trouble keeping possession anytime it would get near midfield as the Cougs were aggressively attempting to force turnovers into to resume their attack. WSU had a few more opportunities to add to their lead, but they were unable to add on.

Utah got a late corner kick in the 88th minute, down by one, that was they weren’t able to capitalize. WSU got possession, which promptly led to an attempt by the Cougs to melt the clock.

Bennett’s attempted cross in the 74th minute was easily intercepted by Utah keeper Chelsea Peterson. But she quickly got the ball back before losing possession. At this point, Washington State’s offense held the advantage in possessions in this back and fourth match. This included a collision between Alyssa Gray and the keeper that left Peterson with a limp; that limp didn’t stop her from blocking Gray’s shot a few seconds later.

Courtney Talbot earned her first yellow card, WSU’s second of the match, in the 77th minute.

In the 67th minute, the Utes had a couple of shots on goal as they began to control possession. Despite being unable to score, they were able to earn a corner kick…which was promptly shot too high. Utah kept up the pressure on Washington State’s defense as the Utes were aggressive.

That aggressiveness almost proved costly for the Utes as Nadia Cooper ended up in a one-on-one situation but her shot wasn’t able to slip past Peterson.

A pair of hand balls against the Utes gave WSU another excellent scoring opportunities. Unfortunately the header went straight into the ground before bouncing to Peterson. The missed chance so on the offensive side of the pitch continued for the Cougs.

Those hand balls felt like a turning point, however, as the Washington State offense began to control the match again and kept the ball on the Utes side of the pitch. That is until a yellow card was called on Brianna Alger, the free kick led to a shot on goal that went just a little too high in the 65th minute.

Lynch started off the second half by taking a shot at the goal, but Utah’s Peterson made a save despite losing her footing mid save. Neither squad did much with their next series of possessions until Utah as both defenses forced several turnovers.

Studer got the best look the Cougs had in the first half but Peterson partially deflected the shot, then it bounced off of the cross bar. Despite getting a pair of corner kicks after that missed shots Washington State was unable to convert either opportunity. Which proved costly down the stretch in the first half for the Cougars.

This included a free kick that sailed well over any Washington State attacker and straight to Peterson. In the waiting minutes of the first half, Utah applied a bunch of pressure and got off a shot on goal that was stopped with relative ease. At the half, it was a nil-nil tie.

Utah earned the first corner of the match, but the Cougar defense was able to disrupt it. Neither squad was able to firmly establish possession which lead to another Utah corner kick. Fortunately, the Utes were unable to capitalize on it after Kaufusi was called for a foul to give WSU possession on the free kick.

That free kick turned into a string of possessions where WSU put a lot of pressure by its attack. But Utah’s defense held strong and the Cougs only for one really opportunity for a goal that was another

Washington State dominated the first quarter of the match, it included a pair of shots on goal that Peterson was perfectly positioned to stop. One of them was a floater that was a little too light as the experienced Utes keeper was able to get under it before it really had a chance at scoring.

Post match thoughs

  • The Cougar defense was tested often by a Utah offensive attack that was almost aggressive as their own. It held masterfully as Nadia Cooper only had to make two saves on the night — for comparison’s sake, Peterson had to make seven saves in the loss.
  • Washington State’s offense pulled of 20 shots, eight of them on goal. It was another match where the offense was consistently in position to score…it would have been nice if they’d converted on a few more of those wide open opportunities though.
  • No. 7 Stanford lost to Oregon State, which means that the Cougs have sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 after only two conference matches. Not bad Cougs, not bad at all.

Next up for Washington State is a trip up to Boulder to take on Colorado at 11 AM on Sunday.

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